Texas child advocates may have noticed that changes in how family law courts apply the venerable "best interests of the child" litmus test for deciding whom that child will live with have unexpectedly given a boost for to single-dad households. The concept of shared parenting is becoming the go-to paradigm for awarding child custody. Some say the rise of shared parenting is at least partially behind more single fathers raising their children.
A shift toward equal custody time for both parents is in the works as shared parenting advocates in Texas and around the country are encouraging several states to consider legislation that would change what some feel are outmoded laws granting custody to one parent, usually the mother. In 2013, Arkansas enacted a law that encourages "approximate and reasonable equal division of time" between parents in child custody determinations, in the process overturning previous court decisions that tended to hold shared custody in disfavor. Lawmakers in Minnesota and Florida had also passed similar measures, only to see them vetoed by the governors of those states.
Legislative efforts to give judges in Plano and other parts of Texas the ability to enforce support orders with six-month jail sentences might have caught the father of an 11-year-old boy in a clerical nightmare. The dad was paying his court-ordered child support by having it deducted directly from his paycheck through an automated system administered by the state. When he was informed that the deductions were short $3,000, the man paid what was owed plus another $1,000 and thought the matter was resolved.
A 33-year-old woman was taken into custody in December 2013 on charges of allegedly kidnapping her two children, a 4-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy. On Jan. 14, the woman received a trial date of April 7. Her bond was set at $20,000. The father of the two children, who is a resident of Texas, was awarded custody of the children during the couple's divorce proceedings. The woman was taken into custody in New York after allegedly fleeing with the two children from Livingston County, Michigan, where the couple's divorce was finalized.
When handling shared custody issues, families in Texas and other states should consider how children are affected if one parent ignores an established arrangement. On Dec. 28, two California fathers were finally reunited with their abducted sons more than 18 months after the mother refused to return home from a court-authorized visit to Europe. After filing child concealment claims, the fathers were granted sole child custody by a U.S. court, and FBI officials secured an international warrant for the mother's arrest.
Families challenged by children with mental illness may be interested in a trend occurring in Texas, Illinois and other states. Known as a psychiatric "lockout," it is the practice of parents who refuse to allow a child to return home or to make living provision for them when they are discharged from a mental health facility. Believing that their children will receive needed mental health care in state custody that they are financially unable to provide, parents relinquish custody of the child.
Shortly after the Copperas Cove Police Department announced a suspected interference with a child custody case involving a missing child, the 2-year-old was returned to her grandparents. The toddler was taken from them by the biological mother on Oct. 23, but the grandparents had legal custody of the child.
Parents of college-bound children in Texas and elsewhere that seek financial aid are usually required to fill out a standardized application form that is used by most public colleges and universities. This form, known as FAFSA, requires certain financial disclosures to be made. However, some of the disclosures differ depending upon the marital status of the parents. In the case of divorced parents, Child custody plays a role, especially in terms of where the young person is deemed to reside.