Fathers fight to split time and custody equally

A bill pending before the Texas Legislature right now could change divorce in Texas. Fathers in the Lone Star State are rallying in support of a new law to be passed that would change the child custody law.  Texas House Bill 453, authored by State Rep. James White, R-Woodville, would create a presumption of equality between mothers and fathers in spending parenting time with their children after they separate. How It Works in Texas Family Court In a Texas divorce, child custody is referred to as a “conservatorship”, which is the word used to describe the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent. Texas courts name a child’s custodian parent as a “conservator.”  The most important concern for the court in deciding on a conservatorship plan is what is in best interest of the child. Texas Child Custody A family law judge will decide the terms of a “conservatorship” unless both parents reach a custody agreement prior to arriving in a family court. In that case, the court would just need to approve it. According to House Bill 453, the courts must enter a possession schedule that divides the time equally. Texas Child Conservatorships Joint managing conservatorship (JMC) In a joint managing conservatorship both parties share the rights and duties of a parent. Even in this situation, the exclusive right to make certain decisions may be awarded to one parent only. Remember, the court uses the legal standard of “what is in the best interests of the child. The challenge of a JMC is that when a judge makes both parents JMCs it may not mean that both parents are...

What Can Be the Consequences of a Mother Denying Visitation to a Father?

Court orders establish the rules, and anyone in violation of a court order must prepare to face the consequences. An interesting article in the English newspaper the Daily Mail  reported that a senior family court judge ruled that mothers who refuse to let separated fathers see their children should have their children taken away from them. After three strikes of denying visitation to a father, the court would award custody to the father. This particular judge considered that custody change was the solution to about 5,000 cases a year involving mothers who defied court orders that established parental contact for fathers. Sending mothers to jail wasn’t a viable solution because of its damaging effects on children. The Texas Court of Appeals arrived at a similar ruling in the case In the Interest of N.W. and N.W. C., Children. This case involved a mother who appealed the court’s ruling when the court changed custody awarding it to the father. Along a similar vain, parental alienation was a factor in this case. The court decided the mother was trying to alienate the father from the children and turn the children against him, so the judges confirmed that awarding custody to the father was a just decision. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t violate court orders and should seek legal help right away when running into conflicts with parenting. It’s vital to understand your rights and your ex-spouse’s rights under Texas statutes. Our attorneys at C.E. Borman & Associates work closely with you to help you understand the legal issues involved and protect your...

A Father’s Persistence in Seeking His Right to Child Custody

This case is an example of a father who never relented in seeking child custody from his first learning about pregnancy all the way through appeal. In the Matter of B.B.M, a child, Appellant, Shawn McDonald persisted in establishing his paternity, and after battling for four years, finally obtained the right to a new trial to determine custody of his son. He had cohabited with the son’s mother, Samantha, and in 2002 she conceived and gave birth to a girl. However, the relationship didn’t last and some years later, several months after breaking up and moving in with a new boyfriend, Samantha learned she was pregnant. She decided to give the child up for adoption and began making adoption plans. She admitted to the adoption agent that Shawn was the father and he didn’t know about her pregnancy. When Shaw found out about the pregnancy, he made his wishes strongly known that he would not relinquish his parental rights for the child’s adoption. He wanted custody of the child. Despite his wishes, Samantha continued to pursue adoption and the child was placed with a couple in Idaho. When Samantha gave birth to her son on July, 2 2005, she requested the child be designated as a “no information” patient, which prevented the hospital from releasing any information about Samantha or the baby to Shawn. The adoptive parents were present at the hospital for the birth and took the baby home with them to Idaho. Shawn filed his notice of intent to claim paternity of the baby on July 28, 2005. The adoption agent delayed in sending a written request...

Father’s Rights — the Status of Single Fathers

Did you know there was nine times the number of single fathers in 2011 than in 1960? This fact comes from a Pew Research Center article called “The Rise of Single Fathers.” In 2011 more than 2.6 million men in the United States were single fathers. In 1960, fathers headed 14 percent of single households, and today the percentage is 24 percent, almost one quarter of total households. What are some comparisons between single fathers and single mothers? More single fathers (41%) cohabit with a partner than single mothers (14%) Single fathers are higher paid than single mothers Only 24% of single fathers live below the poverty line An estimated 43% of single mothers live below the poverty line Most single fathers are less educated than single mothers Most single fathers are Caucasian Most single fathers are older than single mothers What are the reasons for the increase in single fathers? Higher divorce rates Increase in non-marital births Changes in the legal system Today, fathers are more apt to challenge the legal system and demand their rights to custody than they were back in the 1960’s. In past years, when a mother didn’t want to raise the children, it was common for the grandparents to step forward as custodians. If you’re dealing with custody issues, consult with an experienced family law attorney. Our lawyers at C.E. Borman & Associates can discuss your rights as a father and the prospects for pursuing a case in Texas.  ...

A Child Support Modification Case Gone Wrong

  Sometimes we can spare ourselves from bad outcomes by learning from other people’s mistakes. It pays to stay on top of a modification case with your attorney. An example of a modification case gone very wrong occurred in January 2014. Fox News reported that Houston, Texas resident Clifford Hall ended up in jail after catching up on unpaid child support and opposing counsel testifying that his back support was paid and he owed nothing. Hall claims that no one notified him about a modification order for child support. His lawyer stated that some weeks Halls’ employer withheld large child support amounts, other weeks he withheld small amounts, and some weeks no money was withheld at all for child support. To avoid going to jail, Hall paid close to $3,000 in back child support. A few months earlier in November, opposing counsel testified twice in court that Hall owed no back child support. However, the attorney who represented the mother of Hall’s child wanted Hall to pay $3,000 in attorney fees. Court records also showed Hall had violated the visitation order regarding times he was scheduled to pick up his son. Hall also alleged he knew nothing about the modification for pick up times. Hall had lost his previous job, and his new employer admitted to making clerical errors that resulted in a failure to withhold proper amounts of child support. Despite his employer’s clerical errors, Texas law holds Hall accountable. Judge Lisa Millard sentenced Hall to spend six months in jail. The Judge had found Hall in contempt of court when he simply walked out of the courtroom. Walking...

Fathers Rights in A Turkey Baster Pregnancy Case

Artificial insemination, called assisted reproduction in Texas, has brought many interesting legal questions before the courts. In a recent case being heard in Virginia, Joyce Rosemary Bruce v. Robert Preston Boardwine, the key issue was whether the man should be recognized as the biological father when insemination occurred using a turkey baster and not through intercourse or medical technology. The individuals were just friends and Joyce Bruce wanted to become a single mother. Robert Boardwine was her friend and agree to provide her with semen, which she inseminated using a turkey baster. They had no written agreement and Bruce assumed he would remain a friend with no greater significance in the life of her child than her other friends. However, Boardwine had other ideas and wanted to participate as a father would in making major decisions in the child’s upbringing. After Bruce rejected his participation, he initiated a lawsuit to fight for paternity. Bruce argued that he was a sperm donor and Boardwine argued he was the child’s father. The case went to appeal at the district court level, and the court ruled that Bruce was the biological father and had parental rights to the child. Bruce had tried artificial insemination under the care of a physician but failed to become pregnant, at which point she returned to the turkey baster method. After continued attempts, the turkey baster approach was successful and she conceived. The court based its ruling on the fact that the legal definition of artificial insemination requires the use of medical technology. Because medical technology was a missing element, the court ruled conception was not by artificial...