Father’s Rights


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  The holiday season may be almost over but it’s not a secret that it remains a challenge for divorced parents in Texas. Divorced parents also have to buy gifts, make and carry out plans for the holidays but it’s a period they have to deal with a little differently. To top that off, the holiday obligations all parents have to deal with can cause them to lose sight of what really counts during the holiday season. This season is still one that’s meant to be celebrated and enjoyed.   Stresses and Challenges of Divorced Parents in Texas   If you are a divorced parent, you must be already well-versed regarding the challenges and the struggles this holiday season brings. For sure you have your own holiday plans, and your spouse also has his or her own plans. Both of your expectations could be different, which poses as a potential risk for disappointments on either side during the holidays. Even if things go well between you and your ex-spouse for the rest of the year in terms of co-parenting, it is the holiday season at the end of the year that will really test your civility towards each other. There can be a stifling tension between you and your co-parent, which could stem from different plans and holiday ideas. Both of you will want to have the children with you for the holidays but since you’re living separately, it’s a difficult thing to accept the fact that one must spend the holiday without the children, as per court orders. Your children will be able to sense the stress and tension and it will hinder them from completely enjoying the holidays.   Civil for the Holidays   An obvious solution to this problem is for both parents to try to remain […]

A Holiday Reminder for Divorced Parents in Texas


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It can be pretty horrible when you’re just minding your own business and you suddenly receive a letter from the Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division, demanding that you pay thousands of dollars in child support. It would feel as if your world has turned upside down in a matter of seconds. To make it worse, the letter informs you that you have been delinquent in paying child support. It’s a sticky situation, especially when you know in your soul and conscience that you are not a father – you are certain that you do not have a child. Does this shocking situation sound familiar? No, it’s not a plot of a movie, this really happens in real life. Of course, cases that require paternity determination do not always unfold like this, but you get the point: it’s pretty complicated. If you are in a similar situation, or if you know someone who is in a situation similar to the one we mentioned above, you need to understand that the  situation calls for a family law attorney. Legal advice would certainly be necessary to sort out the case. In cases such as the one mentioned in our scenario above, the ‘father’ can be absolutely certain that he does not have a child out of wedlock. In most cases, he would know the person listed as the mother of the child. It could be an old friend, an old classmate or a colleague. It’s possible for these cases to arise even if he was never in a romantic relationship with the mother of the child. That’s just the way our world is today. If you find yourself in this situation, it would help if you know what to do.   What to Do When You’re Suddenly a Father (But You Think […]

Paternity and DNA Testing in Texas: What You Need to Know



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There are times that when a couple is not married but have children, the child will not have an acknowledged legal father. This is because Paternity is not yet established. In the eyes of the law, Paternity should be established in order for a child to have a legal father, even without the child’s parents marrying. For a brief background, Paternity covers the state of being a father to a person. When Paternity is established in a family, the father’s name will be indicated in the birth certificate of the child. In the same manner, the father will also have certain rights to the child. Paternity Order There is a possibility that the child’s biological father who is no longer in good terms with the family will be replaced by the new standing father in the family. When this happens, the best document that the spouses must acquire in is the Paternity Order. In Texas, Paternity is acquired when one gets a paternity order. This will be the indication to who will be the child’s father in the family that will be generally accepted in all referring documents, and to all references that will need the name of the father. Paternity orders will include the terms of the visitation, financial support, medical support and custody of the child. It is important to note however that the spouses are also presented with the option to only establish Paternity, without having to pass a Paternity Order in the court. Acknowledgment of Paternity Paternity will be acknowledged in this manner if the parents are in good terms and are willing to sign a certain document that will establish that the parent is the legal father of the child. This document is called the “Acknowledgement of Paternity.” This must be signed by both parties, […]

What is Paternity?   Recently updated !


Knowing What’s In Your Child’s Best Interests
Your child’s best interests will always be a key point in your divorce and child custody cases. As you are well aware, your child feels the impact of the divorce even more than you do. It’s really a sad reality that you have to accept and deal with properly. You and your spouse can have some control over the circumstances that affect your divorce, but your child is completely helpless. It is quite common for children to feel confused and misplaced when their parents are undergoing a divorce. As a parent, you obviously would want to protect your children. The divorce probably happened because you want to protect your children from your spouse’s wrongdoings or abusive behavior. Knowing what’s in your child’s best interests would definitely help in ensuring that they can have a normal life during and after the divorce. The conflicts and the many issues that you will have to deal with throughout the duration of your divorce could take its toll on you. You might lose sight of the fact that your children are your priority. You could be blinded by things that you will fail to recognize what’s in your child’s best interests. How can you play your divorce according to your child’s best interests? 1. Avoid the Courthouse It might come as a surprise to many that a lot of divorce cases don’t get into the courtroom. Contrary to what movies and television depict, most divorces actually end in settlement, hence, there’s no need to pay a visit to the judge. The only problem with this option is that you might find it difficult to deal with your spouse when you are still at the peak of your anger. If your spouse has terribly wronged you, it can be quite uncomfortable to work together to […]

Focusing on Your Child’s Best Interests



Texas Paternity FAQ
Frequently Asked Legal Questions About Paternity in Texas There are a lot of questions about paternity in Texas that get asked regularly.  We wanted to save people a little bit of googling and try answer as few of the most common ones in one place.  This guide to the frequently asked legal questions about paternity in Texas is meant to aid you but not to replace the role of an attorney. Define Paternity For Me? When a baby is born and there are questions about the father, you seek to establish paternity.  Paternity is, therefore, the legal identification of who the father of a child is.  This process is typically done through genetic matching of the child’s DNA to the father’s DNA. Is Paternity Testing Only Performed On Babies? While paternity testing is typically performed on babies it has been used to test kids of any age.  This helps to establish who the father is no matter what the situation is. Can You Force A Paternity Test? The short answer is yes, you can force a paternity test.  To do this you need to petition the court for a court ordered paternity test.  This order can also include conditions for what will happen if the paternity test comes back as a match.  Here are some of the conditions that might be attached: custody, visitation, child support, medical support, and/or legal support. Who Can File For A Paternity Order or Case? The following people can file for a paternity order or a paternity case: The mother of the child in question A man who believes he is the father A man who is believed to be the father The child (if of reasonable age) The approved parent in a legal agreement The legal custodian or guardian of the child A government agency […]

Texas Paternity FAQ


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Michigan man Carnell Alexander owes the state $30k in child support for a child that is not his after his ex-girlfriend named him on state financial assistance forms in 1987. The state requires that a father be listed so that the state can track down the father to reimburse the state for the financial assistance.   Unfortunately for Alexander and other men in similar situations, the state does not require any proof to be provided when naming the father on forms. Instead, the responsibility is passed to the person named to then prove that they are not that person. The state sends a summons and the person named must appear at that time.   Many people are unaware of the importance of appearing in court when summoned. In cases regarding child support and paternity, failure to appear results in a default judgment and the person named is then legally responsible as the father.   Mr. Alexander, however, can prove that he never received the summons as he was in jail at the time. The process server delivered the letter to a relative instead of directly to him. The state also sent following letters to an address where he no longer lived.   He did eventually find out about the order in 1990 after being stopped for a traffic violation and then being told that he had a warrant out for outstanding child support. He then did go to court, where he attempted to clear up the matter. Without the money to afford an attorney, Alexander did not have the resources to know that he needed to file a specific motion to dispute the paternity.   The mother of the child has even asked the court to forgive his debt, and the court did forgive the portion of the debt that […]

Paying Child Support for Someone Else’s Child?



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A friend of mine asked me the other day which type of cases I found most emotionally draining. I had to think about it for a minute, but I eventually came to the conclusion that while termination cases can be heart wrenching at times, and divorces can be full of drama, it was my experiences in IV-D (Child support) court trying to defend against enforcement actions that often were the most DIFFICULT for me emotionally. The reason for this is twofold: First, there is the lack of defense. Believe it or not, I chose to be a lawyer because I want to help people with their problems, and finding defenses for clients defending against the state in child support actions basically amounts to begging for leniency most of the time. That is not to say that it isn’t successful, but the best defenses are somewhat based around the idea that sending people to jail rarely gathers more money, so therefore its best to leave people in the free so that they can work. The actual statutory defense of “inability to pay”, which is the actual reason 99 percent of people aren’t paying, is virtually impossible to prove as an affirmative defense almost to the point to render it useless. It gets depressing to hear homeless clients grilled on the stand about where they find money to feed themselves. Then, there is internal frustration of dealing with the reality of modern day debtor’s prisons. The logic for putting people in jail for these actions is not technically that they owe money, its that they are in “contempt of court”, ie willfully thumbing their noses at the court’s order. This absolutely DOES apply to a certain percentage of the cases, but in my experience not many. The much more likely situation is simply […]

Child Support and Debtor’s Prisons


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The purpose of child support is to ensure that a child is taken care of. This is a social value that tracks from the idea that all children are inherently innocent (true) and thus deserve to be supported even if it creates hardships for the parents. However, some situations create results that are so egregious that this philosophy NEEDS to be altered. Take for example, the case of Nick Olivas. At the age of 14, he was statutorily raped by a 20 year old woman who later became pregnant and had his child. 10 years later at the age of 24, he was served with a lawsuit demanding child support for a daughter he had no idea even existed. There seem to be TONS of issues with this: First, is whether or not the state should be helping to enforce ADDITIONAL consequences on the victim of a sex crime. If that language sounds harsh, good, because that’s how I view the situation. A long time ago, in regards to women, we moved past the idea that it’s acceptable to force victims of sex crimes to deal with the consequences of the non-consensual pregnancy. It used to be the case that women could be forced to carry children to term in situations where they had been raped, using the same logic used in this case, ie that the child is innocent and thus the parent can suffer the consequences even if it was non-consensual. This obviously places the consequences squarely in the wrong place, however, and society realized this and abandoned the practice. Why is this any different? One could argue the situation is even more clear when dealing with finances, as opposed to pregnancy, because while one cannot transfer a pregnancy to the perpetrator, one can certainly transfer a financial burden. If […]

Forced Child Support for Rape Victims