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Dallas Divorce Law Blog

Do unmarried fathers have the right to prevent an adoption?

Parents in Texas may benefit from learning more about the rights that unmarried fathers are typically afforded. In order to have parental rights, unmarried fathers may be required to establish paternity and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to parenting their child. In order to prevent a child from being given up for adoption, an unmarried father will need to have already established and acknowledged paternity. Fathers who do not establish paternity may not have any rights over the child.

If an unmarried father waits too long to establish paternity, a family judge may perceive the delay as a lack of commitment to the child. In regards to preventing an immediate adoption, some courts may expect an unmarried father to establish paternity before childbirth. Unmarried fathers who find out they have a child after the adoption has already been finalized may be left with no recourse.

The final step in a divorce

Texas law requires that all marriages in the state be ended with a final appearance before the court and the issuance of a final decree of divorce. When there is complete consensus on the disposition of debts, liabilities, community property and child support arrangements between the two divorcing parties, then they may fill out the final decree on their own and bring it in for a short series of questions and testimony known as the "prove-up."

If one ex-spouse will be paying child support to the other, then the court will need a copy of any applicable employee's withholding order. The partner who is requesting the divorce must bring proof that the other spouse was served with the papers or an official waiver of service that was stamped and processed at least ten days previously. All information must be provided in triplicate.

What are the penalties for domestic violence in Texas?

The criminal penalties that can be assessed on a perpetrator who commits acts of domestic violence in Texas can range from a monetary fine to a significant prison sentence. If convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, such an individual would face a fine as high as $500. Conviction for a second-degree felony, however, could result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

A person who acted intentionally, knowingly or recklessly to cause bodily injury to a member of their family can normally expect to be handed a Class A misdemeanor charge. The charge could become more or less severe based on information about the victim, the type of violence that occurred and other circumstances involved in the incident.

The enforcement of a divorce decree

In Texas, as in other states, many couples file for divorce each year. In some cases, one of the parties will refuse to comply with one or more of the requirements set forth in the divorce decree. In the event that an ex-spouse refuses to comply with some aspect of a divorce decree such as turning over property or paying spousal maintenance or child support, the other party may file a suit to enforce. The procedure for this and other family law matters is set forth in the applicable Family Code statute.

According to Texas law, any person whose liabilities, powers, duties or rights might be affected by a suit to enforce is entitled to receive notice of the action. In addition, the individual will be required to file a written answer. The legal proceedings in connection with a suit to enforce will be governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. The power to enforce the original divorce agreement is granted to the court that issued the divorce decree.

Alimony in Texas

Alimony, also known as spousal support or contractual maintenance, is the court-ordered or approved amount that one spouse must pay the other after divorce. If neither party can agree on an amount, the court will only assign alimony under specific conditions per Texas state law.

The court can award alimony if the requesting party has been a recipient of domestic abuse within a two-year period preceding the divorce, or at any time during divorce proceedings. Spousal support can also be awarded if the marriage lasted a minimum of 10 years and the recipient is disabled, caring for a child with a disability or otherwise hindered from earning a livable wage.

The filing and notification processes for a divorce

The divorce process typically commences when the petitioner files for divorce. Subsequently, the other spouse, or the respondent, receives notice of the petition. Filing for divorce in Texas requires the couple to have lived in the state for a minimum of six months. Moreover, the petition for divorce must be submitted in the county where the couple has lived for the previous 90 days.

If there is sufficient grounds for divorce, such as adultery, the petitioner may note these grounds so as to gain a tactical advantage. The petitioner may also include the desired outcome of the divorce, such as what the petitioner would have the court order in the event that the divorce is disputed.

Domestic violence in Texas

Domestic violence continues to plague Texans, both male and female, who fall victim to the abusive behavior of their partners. Studies have shown that domestic violence normally follows a cyclical pattern with recognizable, discrete behavioral patterns. Recognizing the early warning signs that a person is in a potentially abusive relationship is important in order to prevent it from occurring.

Texas law takes a dim view of family violence, providing potential criminal penalties to abusive people. When a victim of domestic violence calls the police, he or she has the option of asking that charges be pressed. Officers can also provide standby services to victims in order for them to gather belongings and children for transportation to a domestic violence shelter. The law provides that abuse victims can seek and obtain restraining orders to prevent the abuser from coming near to them or their children, adding an extra layer of safe distance between them and the abusive partner.

How are noncustodial parents treated in Texas?

Divorced parents in Texas may benefit from learning more about the rights afforded to noncustodial parents. The state's Office of the Attorney General provides a handbook that is designed to inform noncustodial parents about establishing paternity and assessing child support services. The guide was developed on the belief that the child's quality life is best when both parents provide love and support.

Noncustodial status does not mean that the parent is unimportant or does not have any parental rights. The custodial parent, referred to as the managing conservator, is afforded the legal right to choose where the child will reside. This Office of the Attorney General refers to this legal right as having custody. The possessory conservator, commonly referred to as the noncustodial parent, is afforded the legal right to spend time with the child and remain privy to the child's whereabouts.

The Standard Possesion Order in Texas

Under Texas law, a person who has the rights to a child is known as conservator, and this designation may be categorized in two different ways. A person may be appointed a managing conservator or a possessory conservator by the courts. Generally, parents are presumed to be joint managing conservators, but the designations might change if a judge deems it necessary.

Generally, one adult is appointed to be the primary managing conservator for a child. This individual maintains primary custody of the child and has the ability to determine where the child resides. The other parent is designated the non-custodial parent and has the right to possession of the child according to the terms listed in the Standard Possession Order.

Texas property division considerations

Texas is a community property state. This means that most property acquired during the marriage is considered jointly owned by both parties unless they are considered include gifts or inheritances.

Property acquired in another state that would be community property if it had been acquired in Texas and assets acquired by the exchange of property that would be deemed community property are designated as jointly owned for property division analysis. Though the law sees most marital property as jointly owned, a judge may order an unequal distribution under certain circumstances, and generally, the court's focus is on equitable division. To that end, the court will consider the rights of the parties to assets as well as any children of the marriage.

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