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Not Sure if You Are the Biological Father to a Child? In Prison? Read This Blog

If uncertainty exists regarding your biological paternity, neither you nor the child鈥檚 mother should sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity. It鈥檚 essential to arrange for a genetic test to confirm your biological relationship with the child, especially if you鈥檙e unsure while incarcerated and need to know how to get a paternity test while incarcerated. Once you receive the test results confirming you as the child鈥檚 father, you can confidently proceed to sign the acknowledgment. However, if you opt not to sign the acknowledgment, you鈥檒l need to pursue paternity establishment through court proceedings, which may include determining custody, visitation rights, and other essential orders for your child.

If paternity has not been established, you may qualify for free genetic testing. To begin, contact the Office of the Attorney General to inquire about starting a child support case through the agency. However, if paternity has already been established via a court order or by completing an Acknowledgment of Paternity, DNA testing is unnecessary.聽It鈥檚 important to note that over-the-counter DNA testing results cannot serve as evidence in a paternity lawsuit.

Handling child support matters as an incarcerated person

You may find it surprising to learn that a child support case has been filed against you. This is especially true if you were incarcerated while in a relationship with your child鈥檚 mother or were residing together when your sentence began. Aren鈥檛 you currently in a relationship with the mother of your child? Why would she decide to file a child support case against you right now?

It鈥檚 probable that a child support case has been initiated because your child鈥檚 mother no longer resides with you. Consequently, she may have needed to apply for government benefits such as Medicaid or food stamps. Once this occurs, the state will check to see if child support orders are in place for your child. If not, the Office of the Attorney General will initiate a case even if your child鈥檚 mother does not wish to do so.

How much child support are you liable to pay?

In Texas, the law establishes general guidelines for determining monthly child support payments. Your monthly net resources are considered relevant for child support calculations. If you are responsible for one child, you鈥檒l pay twenty percent of your net monthly resources. For two children, it鈥檚 twenty-five percent. The percentage increases by 5% for each additional child, up to forty percent for six or more children.

What happens if you have remarried? How much child support will be owed in that case?

Many fathers inquire about whether their new spouse鈥檚 earnings are relevant in calculating child support for children from a previous marriage. It鈥檚 important to note that your new spouse鈥檚 income will not be combined with yours to calculate child support. Despite common misconceptions, this is not a possibility under the law.

What happens if you have children from multiple relationships? How will a judge determine how much child support you are to pay to each?

When you have children living in different households with different mothers, the court uses a separate formula to calculate child support. It鈥檚 crucial to inform the judge or the OAG about all your children, as they may not discover them otherwise.

If a child support case has been opened up and you are entering prison what should you do?

If a child support case is initiated as you begin serving a jail or prison sentence, it鈥檚 essential to contact the OAG beforehand, providing the facility鈥檚 address where you鈥檒l be staying. This ensures you receive monthly updates from the OAG, keeping you informed about your payments and any past due support.

Child Support Modification: From Incarceration to Legal Process

Just because you are now incarcerated does not mean that your obligation to pay child support has ended. To reduce or modify your child support obligation, seek a modification of the court order by revisiting the judge. It鈥檚 highly advisable to hire a private attorney for this process if you decide to pursue it.聽Modifying a child support order is quite difficult, and that is just from a legal argument perspective. The remaining portion of the case is full of drafting and filing documents correctly and on time.

If you have an active child support case with the Office of the Attorney General, you can request the agency to review the child support order. Make adjustments to the amount you鈥檙e obligated to pay, whether it鈥檚 an increase or decrease, if your situation warrants it. Special forms are available for incarcerated parents like yourself to fill out. This is to assess if your assets and income merit a reduction in child support payments.

Secure Child Support Payments via the State Disbursement Unit

Remember, you can submit all or part of your child support payments through the State Disbursement Unit of the Office of the Attorney General, conveniently online. However, if you opt to pay child support directly to your child鈥檚 mother, these payments won鈥檛 automatically be tracked in the child support system. These direct payments often get counted as gifts by judges and do not count as official payments. Do not put yourself in a position where your direct payments are not credited to your account.

What happens when your child support case is begun once you are already in prison?

In Texas, if your incarceration lasts longer than 90 days, the judge should consider your actual income when determining your child support obligation. Typically, this amount would be $0 since you鈥檙e not earning while incarcerated, unless you have other financial resources. Your court orders should be sent to your most recent mailing address. If you haven鈥檛 received them, you can request a copy by contacting the court directly.

Why doesn鈥檛 your child support obligation go down to zero automatically when you are in prison?

This is a pretty reasonable question to ask. Once the court becomes aware that you are behind bars, why shouldn鈥檛 your obligation to pay child support to be paused? After all, you are obviously not earning an income while in prison and the amount of support that you owe will just keep growing and growing the whole time. Isn鈥檛 this unfair to those of you who are incarcerated?

Your child support obligation doesn鈥檛 automatically change when you鈥檙e incarcerated because the Office of the Attorney General lacks the authority to make automatic adjustments. Only the judge in your court can modify the child support amount. This can be considered after filing the necessary paperwork.

Moreover, the court must allow your child鈥檚 mother to present her own evidence, which could influence the court鈥檚 decision. To modify a child support order, a significant change in circumstances for you, your child, or your child鈥檚 mother must be demonstrated. In Texas, incarceration for at least 90 days is considered a substantial change in circumstances justifying a modification. Your new child support obligation will be based on your actual earned income during the case.

Is it possible to modify your child support obligation while you are in prison?

If you wish to modify your child support obligations, you must file the appropriate paperwork with the court. The Office of the Attorney General provides online forms for incarcerated individuals to declare their current income. This financial information will be presented to the judge for consideration in your case.

It鈥檚 important to note that until a judge issues a ruling in your favor, there is no official change to your child support obligation or the amount owed. Interest continues to accrue on the outstanding balance. If possible, it鈥檚 advisable to make payments, even partial ones, through the Office of the Attorney General while you are incarcerated.

What if you are the parent who receives child support payments and you are sent to prison?

If you are a custodial parent who receives child support, you will continue to do so even if you become incarcerated. Your payments will be sent the same way and you will be the person to whom those payments are made. A court order can be obtained that allows you to redirect those payments to another person of your choosing. You may want to consider whether or not you want the person who is caring for your child to be the one who receives those monthly child support checks.

If you are paying child support while in prison can those payments be directed towards those that are caring for her?

Your child support payments can go to the person who is caring for your children while you are away. You would need to let the Office of the Attorney General know to whom the support should be paid.

Interested in learning how custody and visitation function within this topic? Read our blog post tomorrow

We will continue to discuss child support and incarceration in tomorrow 鈥榮 blog post. Two new topics- visitation and custody will also be introduced for your consideration.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the material that we shared with you today please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to meet with you for a free of charge consultation. These consultations are free of charge and can provide you with a great deal of very important information relevant to your case.

Our attorneys practice in every family court in southeast Texas. We aim to achieve the goals of our clients through hard work and putting our clients first in every regard We will treat you and your family with the respect and care that you all deserve. In your most uncertain times, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are here to help you develop a game plan to help you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I force a paternity test in Texas?

To initiate a paternity test in Texas, you can start by contacting the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). They can assist you in the legal process to establish paternity. It鈥檚 important to consult with legal representation for guidance.

Does the state pay child support if the father is in jail in Texas?

No, the state does not pay child support on behalf of an incarcerated father. Child support obligations remain the responsibility of the non-custodial parent, even if they are in jail. It鈥檚 important to address child support matters legally.

Can a man demand a paternity test in Texas?

Yes, a man in Texas can request a paternity test to establish or confirm biological parentage. Legal procedures can be initiated to compel the test, especially if there are doubts about paternity. Consulting with legal experts is advisable.

How much does a court-ordered paternity test cost in Texas?

The cost of a court-ordered paternity test in Texas can vary. It鈥檚 advisable to check with your attorney or the Office of the Attorney General for specific cost details and any potential financial assistance options.

What is the statute of limitations on paternity in Texas?

In Texas, there is no specific statute of limitations on establishing paternity. You can pursue paternity testing at any time, but it鈥檚 essential to consult with legal experts to understand the best approach for your situation.

What happens to babies born in jail in Texas?

When babies are born to incarcerated mothers in Texas, they are usually placed with a relative or guardian outside of the correctional facility. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has programs to support mothers during and after childbirth.