My divorce case is pending in the 417th District Collin County Texas in Judge Wheeless' court. Can anyone point me in the direction of a place that provides some type of template for a partial settlement agreement in a divorce in regard to child visitation? Also is there a motion or anything that I would have to file in order to get the judge to approve a partial settlement agreement?
Judge Wheless is an excellent judge who understands the law and values children. You're fortunate to be in her court.
If the partial settlement agreement was reached during mediation, the mediator should draft the partial agreement and submit it to the court.
If the partial settlement agreement was reached through an informal settlement process, all you need to do is write it up as a written agreement, have both parties sign it, and file it with the District Clerk's office.
[Case Heading and Style Here]
Rule 11 Agreement
In compliance with Rule 11 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and as evidenced by the signatures of the parties appearing below, the parties hereto have agreed to resolve child visitation issues in this matter as follows:
I. Finality: This agreement is an agreement for terms for child visitation that will be included in the final decree of divorce in this matter.
II. Terms: The parties shall share possession of the child at times mutually agreed to between the parties in advance. and failing agreement, shall share time as follows:
A. School Year Visitation
1. Weekends: During the regular school term, [non-custodial parent name] shall have the right to possession of the child from the time school is regularly dismissed on the first, third, and fifth Friday or each month until school resumes the following Monday.
2. Weekday: During the regular school term, [NCP] shall have the right to possession of the child from the time school is regularly dismissed on Thursday of each week until school resumes the next day.
3. Weekends extended by a school holiday: If a school holiday or teacher in-service day falls on a Friday before a period of [non-custodial parent's name]'s weekend possession, then that period of possession shall begin on the preceding Thursday at the time school is released. If a school holiday or a teacher in-service day falls on a Monday immediately after a period of [non-custodial parent's name]'s weekend possession, then that period of possession shall end when school resumes on Tuesday, or, if school does not resume on Tuesday, then at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday.
AGREED AS TO BOTH FORM AND SUBSTANCE:
[signature block for each parent]
That's really all there is to is. Just write out the agreement in plain English, structuring it so that it's easy to compare the agreement to a final order that gives effect to the agreement. Once both parties have signed it, file it with the district court.
Having said all that, drafting agreements and making certain that every nuance is covered is what attorneys do for a living. If you can't afford an attorney to handle your case, you should at least consider hiring an attorney to draft your documents for you. For example, you see the provision I put in about school not resuming on Tuesday? That's because some school districts only give the children Wed-Fri for Thanksgiving BUT they have teacher in-service days Mon-Tue of that week. That effectively gives the children the entire week off. However, some years, the weekend PRIOR to Thanksgiving will be a "Third Weekend" (possession time for non-custodial parent) but the Thanksgiving holiday will belong to the custodial parent. Thanksgiving is usually expressed as "beginning at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed for the Thanksgiving holiday." So, when should the non-custodial parent return the child? Even the standard form language does not cover this circumstance, yet, in some years, it can lead to a kerfuffle between the parents. At good family law attorney will be able to identify these potential issues and draft around them for you.
I agree with Mr. Daley in terms of the type of action you should take. I was actually born in McKinney and have family there--but alas, I do not know the judges there, as I am now in Austin. I recommend going to see an attorney in McKinney or even the Dallas area if at all possible. If your agreement is informal, it can be written into a Rule 11 Agreement for the child issues. You can actually use a Rule 6.604 Agreement for the property portion of the settlement--which carries more wait. You can get your divorce granted on the settlement agreement. If you choose this route, it is probably far smoother to have an attorney to assist you. Ultimately, you will need a Final Decree of Divorce. This way, you will be able to enforce, and/or modify the agreement in the future. You may choose to bypass a settlement agreement and go straight to a final decree--depending on our specific situation. It sounds like your best bet is to meet with an attorney soon and in the very least, get some advice and assistance on drafting your order. Some firms may offer a limited scope engagement or even a drafting only service. We offer this at my firm. I primarily assist people in Austin and central Texas, but have helped a handful of Dallas area folks where they have agreed situations and can work with my schedule in terms of being able to go to court there or have a colleague go for the "prove up" of an agreed divorce. If it is drafting only or pro se assist, the scope is further limited as you would be technically representing yourself and just getting limited legal advice and help with drafting of your documents.
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