Articles Posted in Paternity

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Many people ask: Can my children decide where they want to live in a divorce? There are many ways for a court to consider children’s input about where they want to live.

The first way is simply allowing children to talk to the judge. Section 153.009 of the Texas Family Code allows a parent to request that a judge interview the child in chambers to determine the child’s wishes regarding certain aspects of custody. If a child is over the age of 12, it is mandatory that the judge interview the child on the request of a parent. A judge may also interview a child under age 12. It is important to know that 12-year old children cannot actually decide where they where they want to live. They will not be providing the “final say.” Instead, the child’s wishes will just be one factor that the Court considers in addition to other important information. Another thing to keep in mind is that this process can be traumatic for children. Sitting in a judge’s chambers can be very intimidating for a child, and a child could be negatively impacted by the pressure of such a weighty decision. However, many times, a child’s input can be very important in a child custody dispute, and so there are other means to obtain the information indirectly.

Another way to get a child’s input in child custody litigation is through a Child Custody Evaluation. In Texas, the only mental health professional that may make recommendations as to possession and conservatorship for children is a child custody evaluator. The Texas Family Code provides very detailed requirements for a child custody evaluation, which includes interviews of each parent and anyone living in a house with the child, interviews of the child, and observations of the home environment and each parent’s interactions with the child. The child custody evaluator will therefore be able to talk to children about where they want to live, and will do so in conjunction with a much broader study into the children’s home environment and what will ultimately be in the best interests of the children.

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father and childIn re Interest of PS is a Texas case that illustrates the importance of consulting an experienced family law lawyer in connection with any plans for artificial insemination. An appellate court reviewed whether a father qualified as a donor under Texas Family Code section 160.102(6). The case arose out of a friendship between the father and mother, who’d lived together but hadn’t had sex. The mother was a lesbian and wanted to have a child. She asked the father to provide sperm. The father also wanted children but didn’t think he was going to get married and thus agreed. The mother gave him sterile syringes and cups, and he gave her his sperm. The mother artificially inseminated herself and got pregnant.

The father went to the mother’s doctor appointments and a sonogram appointment and even came to the birth. He signed an acknowledgement of paternity as well as the birth certificate. The daughter received his last name. The father saw his daughter up to seven times during her first two months but then lost contact with the mother, who married someone. He came by to visit, but nobody answered the door.

A month after the daughter was born, the mother rescinded the paternity acknowledgement and asked the father to relinquish his parental rights through a form. The father asked for the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) help in getting official acknowledgement as the child’s father. The OAG filed a petition to establish their relationship, which the mother and her spouse opposed.

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Can a married couple get divorced in Texas while the wife is pregnant?What to Expect When You're Expecting & Divorcing

It is highly unlikely.

Most Texas courts will not grant a divorce to a married couple if the wife is pregnant. Instead, the couple will have to wait until after the baby is born to finalize their divorce, oftentimes causing significant delays to the already lengthy divorce process. This is the case even if the husband and wife both want the divorce and are in agreement on all issues.

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Surrogacy is the process of a mother carrying a child for a family who can’t conceive. The process can be a godsend for parents who do not have the option of traditional conception. As surrogacy works in Texas, it involves a life-altering event for at least three parties– the intended parents and the gestational mother. Naturally, it is a delicate process with many emotions and moving parts. Surrogacy can be a great option for many reasons- whether the parents are a same-sex couple, medical issues prevent a mother from carrying a baby, or if either parent is concerned about passing down a genetic disorder or defect. For anyone thinking about growing a family through surrogacy, keep in mind that the legal process is just as essential as the biological process. Continue reading →

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This past summer, the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that under the U.S. Constitution, no state may forbid same-sex couples from marrying and that no state may refuse to accept the legality of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.  This Supreme Court opinion, however, did not address issues regarding children of same-sex marriages/partnerships.  As evidenced below, much work still remains to be done in this regard. Continue reading →

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It’s called superfecundation– while fertile, if a woman sleeps with two men during the same fertility cycle, she can conceive twins from two separate fathers. This is not very common, but it is not impossible. 1 out of every 13,000 cases involving twins involves superfecundation.

In New Jersey, a woman tried to collect child support from a man she believed to be the father of her twins. She was right, but only half right. DNA Test Results proved he was only the father of one of the twins, but not the father of the other.

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Welcome back to the third and final installment on the ways in which paternity is established in the state of Texas.  This blog post will focus on adoption and some of the interesting intricacies that can spring up as prospective parents peruse the legal landscape of adoption in Texas.

Chapter 162 of the Texas Family Code contains the statutory rules surrounding adoption.  A question commonly asked of family law attorneys is:  “Who may be adopted?”  Section 162.001 provides that a child residing the state of Texas may be adopted if:  Continue reading →

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Welcome back!  Let’s dive in to the third way in which paternity can be established in Texas:  an adjudication of paternity.  Under chapter 160 of the Texas Family Code, an “adjudicated father” is defined as a man who has been adjudicated by a court to be the father of a child.  Well that is not very helpful is it?  Kind of like trying to describe the color blue to a blind person by saying that it looks very blue.  Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?

Texas law provides that a civil proceeding may be maintained to adjudicate the parentage of a child, and that such proceedings are governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.  One of the main considerations when discussing suits to adjudicate parentage in Texas is whether you have standing to bring the suit.  Subject to certain exceptions, a proceeding to adjudicate parentage may be maintained by: Continue reading →

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If you have ever wondered how paternity is established under Texas law, here are a few key points to remember.  First, there are five ways in which a father-child relationship can be established:

  • (1) an unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity;
  • (2) an acknowledgment of paternity;
  • (3) an adjudication of paternity;
  • (4) adoption; and
  • (5) the man consents to assisted reproduction by his wife resulting in the birth of the child.

Now, what does it take to be considered a “presumed father” under Texas law, and how can that presumption be rebutted?  Well, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if: Continue reading →