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   Recently updated !

CPS Parent Resource Guide Cover
Part 1 and 2 of this section will handle those particular CPS issues, which include special topics. Special topics are but are not limited to: parents who have special physical or intellectual needs or who live with a mental illness; Fathers, especially fathers who don’t see their children, teenage parents, or parents who are in prison may also have questions specific to their situation. This section includes information to address these more individual issues. A. Parents with Disabilities or Special Needs It is important to be aware of whether you are a parent with a disability or special need because The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to CPS cases. Temporary conditions, such as a broken leg, usually are not covered. Additionally, any condition relating from the abuse of drugs or alcohol is not covered. The ADA defines a disability as a condition that “substantially limits a major life activity.” The ADA does not give a list of all the possible disabilities or special needs. Instead, the law covers “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” If you know (or think) you have a disability or special need, then you need to tell your lawyer so she can tell CPS and the court. Examples of disabilities that may be protected by the ADA are: psychiatric or mental impairments such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, Back or spinal injury, migraine headaches, epilepsy, diabetes, vision and hearing impairments. What Does it Mean for Your Case? It is true that CPS is more likely to get involved with parents with disabilities or special needs since CPS workers must take reasonable steps to make sure that parents understand what is going on in their case. This is especially true for parents with special needs who may require “accommodations.” […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 13: Disability and Inability to Care

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

Child support issues 2
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?

Child Support Image 2
I read an article today that estimated that more than 120,000 men paying child support for children that aren’t theirs. The article didn’t go into much detail regarding how that number was reached, but even if the true number were half that, it is still somewhat staggering. I have personally come across this enough times to think it probably isn’t that far off either. There are a number of different situations that can cause this, but the most common in my experience are when Mom will tell someone that they are currently romantically involved in that they are father and are the only person who could be the father. This person believes them and signs the birth certificate and/or a potential acknowledgement of paternity. Then, low and behold, they find out that Mom was sleeping with other people and begins to question paternity and/or gets a paternity test. It seems like the process should be simple at this point with how conclusive DNA testing. Simply show the evidence, get parental rights terminated, no more child support right? Not so fast! Unfortunately, almost nothing in the legal arena works simply, and this process least of all. First of all, pretty much everything in this process requires hiring an attorney, simply because every step of the process is like pulling teeth, and that creates its own complication for people struggling financially (child support payments for other people’s children certainly don’t help with this!). Second, even if you can conclusively prove you are not the father, the judge may determine that you are “effectively” the father either due to an acknowledgement of paternity, or based on the fact that you may have been acting as the father for this period of time. This means that you can still end up on the hook for past, […]

Men owe child support despite not being fathers

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce
Residency Requirements and Divorce Procedures How long should I live in Texas before I can file for divorce in a Texas court? Either you or your spouse should have lived in Texas, at least in the past six months. You should be a resident of the county where the court is located for at least 90 days. What are the terms used in the divorce proceeding to identify the parties involved? Petitioner refers to the party who files for divorce. The other party is then referred to as the Respondent. What does ‘venue’ mean? Venue refers to the court and locality where the divorce case is filed. In Texas, divorce cases must be filed in the District Court. However, if available, your case could be assigned to a Family District Court. What are the documents related to the divorce? To initiate the divorce, you will have to file an Original Petition for Divorce. Once the divorce is finalized, the court will release an order called Decree of Divorce. What are the waiting periods associated with a divorce? There are waiting periods associated with a divorce. The court will grant a divorce after 60 days from the day a petition was filed in court. Some divorce proceedings can last more than 60 days, but the minimum waiting period is 60 days. There are no waiting periods when it comes to annulments, however. How does a divorce procedure go in Texas? First, one spouse who is the petitioner will file the Original Petition for Divorce in court. The papers will be personally served to the other spouse who is the respondent. If the divorce is a mutual decision and both parties are working together, the respondent spouse can sign a waiver to give up the rights to be personally served. Upon filing, […]

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

What You Need to Know About Retroactive Child Support Payments  
  Retroactive child support payments may be something you are considering if a Family Court in Texas just ordered child support from another parent when it’s been long overdue. You may be wondering if it’s possible to receive payments that you would have received if the order has been made by the court earlier. In today’s article, we will learn more about how you can receive retroactive child support payments.   Steps in Seeking Retroactive Child Support Payments   There are steps you ought to follow if you want to receive retroactive child support payments. There are also steps that the court will go through before it can release an order for retroactive child support payments to be made. First, the court must figure out whether it is appropriate to order such payments to be made. If the court finds that such payments are appropriate for your case, they also need to determine the time period covered by the retroactive child support payments that are to be collected. After that, the court will also have to find out how much the paying parent earns monthly for the years covered by the retroactive child support period.   There are also guideline levels of child support that can be found in the Texas Family Code that is bound to be useful. These will be applied to the income of the paying parent in order to determine the actual child support payments owed. There might also be certain circumstances involved in the case that might cause the court to deviate from the amount of support prescribed by the guidelines. The court will have to consider these circumstances if there are any.   Other Court Considerations   The court will also consider whether the paying parent has been asked to pay child support in […]

What About Retroactive Child Support?

Common Legal Problems Single Parents Face in Texas
  Every parent, including single parents, work hard and do their best to protect their children and provide everything their children needs. It can be challenging at times for parents to achieve this, even when working together. You can only imagine how it can be for single parents. Most of the time, single parents face bigger challenges in their parenting. At times, these challenges can even come in the form of legal battles. Custody battles and child support are definitely a handful, and it can be such a headache when you’re facing it alone as a parent. Here are the common legal problems that single parents usually face:   Establishing Parental Rights   The issue of parental rights can be such a challenge for single parents. Both parents are automatically awarded equal parental rights. That in itself is not a problem. However, it can be a real hassle if your child’s other parent does not see himself or herself as a full-time parent. If the other parent just wants to drop in and act as a parent when it’s convenient or whenever it pleases them, it can make things difficult for you and your child. This will potentially lead to disagreements between you and the other parent. It will also paint a turbulent image of the child’s environment. It’s especially challenging when the other parent drops in just to oppose your decisions that are actually in the child’s best interests. When this happens, you can be entangled in a complicated legal battle against the other parent, with either one of you trying to discredit the other in order to terminate the other’s parental rights. If you succeed in terminating another’s parental rights, you might end up with a sole conservatorship right. If you establish more specific parental rights and duties […]

Common Legal Problems Single Parents Face in Texas