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Abilene TX Divorce Law Blog

Family could face child custody battle over wandering child

Every so often a disturbing case involving suspected child abuse or neglect makes the news. Very often, however, there is more to the story than what is initially reported. Even when Texas authorities remove a child from his or her home, the family is often able to regain child custody after a thorough investigation is completed. A recent example from another state has led to a child being held in protective custody after he was found wandering on the side of a busy road. 

A motorist saw the boy, who is believed to be between the ages of 3 and 4, and stopped her car to help. She called police, and they arrives and began searching the local area to try and find the child's family. They were unable to connect with anyone claiming a lost child, and resorted to releasing a photo of the child to local media. 

Jury sides with father in Texas child custody situation

A 4-year-old girl has been at the center of a court battle between her parents in Texas. The girl's mother formally accused her father of child abuse. However, certain events recently unfolded that led a jury to vote that managing child custody should be granted to the child's father.  

The young girl's mother told various court officials that the child's father had committed inappropriate physical contact with his daughter. The father adamantly denied these allegations. He further asserted that the woman was merely trying to turn the child against him.  

Child custody dispute pits tribal courts against parents

From time to time, a custody battle arises that involves a Native American tribal court. Very often, these cases receive a great deal of media attention in Texas and elsewhere due to issues of jurisdiction and authority of tribal courts outside of established reservation land. An example is currently in the news, and centers on a couple who lost child custody of their infant daughter just days after her birth. 

The maternal grandmother did not want the child's father, a white man, to have any involvement in the child's life. To ensure that outcome, she went to a tribal court and gained custody of the child, without the knowledge or participation of the parents. Once she had a court order giving her custody, she had state and tribal authorities remove the baby from the hospital. 

Parents lose child custody over living arrangements

An unusual child custody case has gone before a West Coast court after a family was found living in extreme poverty. Three children were removed from the home, and the parents placed in jail. While the parents have now been released from custody, their children still remain in the custody of the county. The court is now faced with determining whether the family's living arrangements constitute neglect, which has stirred debate in Texas and across the nation.

Police came to the family's plot of desert land to investigate an unrelated matter. When they arrived, they found two parents and three children living in what was described as a small shack. A trailer on the land had been given over to the family's cats, estimated to number in the dozens. The property has no running water or electricity, and officers reported the presence of piles of trash and human feces located throughout the property.

Grandparents win child custody of transgender teen

A judge awarded custody of a transgender teen to her grandparents after what was an emotionally tense and difficult legal matter. That outcome is seen as a win for advocates for transgender youth, but it is also a loss for a family struggling to come to terms with their child's decisions. For many in Texas, this type of child custody case is unimaginable, but states across the nation are having to weigh these types of legal matters. 

The child at the center of this case is 17 years of age. Born a female, the child recently expressed a desire to live her life as a male. That decision came on the heels of a bout of depression and anxiety. When the parents sought treatment for those issues in 2016, their daughter declared her wish to live as a boy. She was diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Fewer than half of single parents receive child support

According to recently released Census Bureau data, only 43.5 percent of parents with physical custody of their children receive financial support from the other parent. That leaves many parents in Texas and across the nation with serious financial strain, on top of taking care of the bulk of child care duties. For those who are struggling to make ends meet, collecting unpaid child support is a priority.

Statistically, single mothers are at a far greater risk of falling into poverty than single fathers. Among custodial parents in poverty, fewer than 40 percent receive full child support payments. The total amount of unpaid child support for the year 2015 was $33.7 billion. Some non-custodial parents do make partial payments but are unable or unwilling to make their child support payments in full. 

How to choose the right child support lawyer for your needs

For some Texas residents, collecting money from a former spouse to cover the costs of raising one or more children can be a struggle. In some cases, these matters go to court, which requires hiring an attorney to pursue a child support case. Because these issues often occur years after a divorce or with parties that were never married, Texas residents may be uncertain how to find the right attorney to handle their child support case.

A great place to begin is by searching for an attorney who specializes in child support proceedings. Choosing a professional who has expertise in a particular area of practice, and even a specific area of family law, can yield great outcomes. Be sure to ask how many child support cases a prospective attorney handles in a given year.

This child custody dispute led to jail time for one father

Going through a custody fight is stressful. It's easy for Texas parents to let emotion overwhelm reason during child custody cases. That said, parents must set their emotions aside and follow the rules of the court if they are unable to work things out and reach a settlement on their own. As one man found, failure to follow the rules can come with serious punitive measures. 

The man was at his county courthouse to attend a custody conference with his former wife. He decided to use his cell phone to record that meeting. Unfortunately, there were signs posted throughout the building advising visitors that the use of cell phones was prohibited. 

Child custody case centers on medical child abuse

An unusual custody case has resulted in a Texas father being reunited with his son and a mother facing criminal charges connected to the boy's medical issues. The child custody resolution is a welcome relief for the father, who has been fighting for years to have the courts and child protective services intervene in the matter. The father and son were reunited in time to spend Christmas together, and the mother now faces serious criminal charges. 

At the heart of the case is the mother's claims that her son suffered from various medical conditions, including a rare genetic disorder and a type of cancer. For years, she told friends, family and community members that the child was dying. At one point, she even had hospice workers come into their home to provide care. 

The role of paternity in child custody disputes

There are many cases where a custody battle is waged between Texas parties where only one person has a biological link to a child. The flip side of those child custody arguments is when a man has been subjected to paternity fraud and led to believe that he is the father of a child that is not his. Those cases are challenging, both for the individuals involved and the courts who hear such matters. 

The issue often arises when a couple breaks up and the mother files for financial assistance from the state. This often triggers a paternity test, as the state has an interest in compelling fathers to help support their children. When those tests reveal that the named father shares no biological link to the child, the courts are faced with a difficult decision. 

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