Q:My child’s father has never been in the picture. Can I terminate his parental rights?
A:Termination of parental rights is an extreme step in a family law case. This occurs in situations only when it is in the best interests of your child. Even if the father consents and you petition the court to terminate his rights the judge must believe that your child is better off without his father in his life. The specific circumstances of your case as well as the needs of your child now and in the future would need to be examined closely by the family court judge your case is assigned to to have his parental rights terminated.
Q:Child Protective Services wants to talk to me about my son. Do I have to cooperate?
A:To an extent, you have no obligation to cooperate with a Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworker if he or she contacts you to collect information. Reports come into CPS every day that relate to alleged incidents of abuse or neglect of children. If this type of report was made about your son then you have no obligation to participate. You do not even need to open the door. That puts the ball in CPS’ court to attempt to obtain a court order naming them as temporary conservator of your child. If successful, CPS could remove your child from your home without your permission.
Q:My spouse told me that there is no such thing as alimony in Texas. Is this true?
A:What your spouse has told you is not true, but you need to be aware of the types of spousal support offered in Texas. In a Texas divorce there are three distinct types of spousal support that may be involved in your case. The first is temporary spousal support. This is financial support paid by one spouse to another during the pendency of the divorce. For after the divorce there are contractual alimony and spousal maintenance to be concerned with. Spousal maintenance can only be ordered by a judge while contractual alimony is negotiated between you and your spouse.
Q:Child support- do my spouse and I get to make up a number?
A:Technically, yes. A judge will ultimately have to review your final decree of divorce to determine whether the figure is in the best interests of your children, however. The Texas Family Code contains a guideline which calculates the paying parent’s net monthly income and then multiplies that against a percentage based upon how many children you have. Your child’s needs- medical, psychological, and other important factors- will largely determine how much child support will be paid.
Q:Can my child’s mother move with my daughter to Houston?
A:A geographic restriction can be included in your court orders that limits where your children can live. This could prevent your children from being moved from Montgomery County to Harris County. However, your child’s mother also can show her side of the story as to why it is in the child’s best interest that they be able to live in Houston. Ultimately the decision whether to limit their residence to Montgomery County will be based on the child’s best interests and not you or the child’s mother.