The Houston Family Law Blog

February 2011 Archives

Should Texas Repeal the Same-Sex Marriage Ban?

Houston's state representative Garnet Coleman filed a joint resolution this week to repeal Texas' constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but it looks like it will be nearly impossible to overturn the gay marriage ban at this time.

According to the Dallas Voice, the resolution to repeal the same-sex marriage ban requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate. In the unlikely event that the resolution does pass through the Legislature, the amendment will still need to be approved by a simple majority of voters with a ballot initiative. Texas voters approved of the constitutional same-sex marriage ban in 2005.

Texas Parents Arrested in Child Support Sweep

The Texas Attorney General’s Office Child Support Division is sending a message to deadbeat parents across the state: if you don’t pay your court-ordered child support, you will be arrested. KMTX reports that the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office actually arrested 24 parents last week on Valentine’s Day in a sweep that targeted non-custodial parents who were wanted for nonpayment of child support.

The sweep is a good example of how authorities across the state are serious when it comes to child support payments. Anybody who is unable to pay court-ordered support should immediately take steps to modify a child support agreement so that arrests and criminal charges can be avoided.

The Rights of Grandparents When Raising Children in Texas

Sometimes the biological grandparents of a child will try and get full custody of their grandson or granddaughter for a number of reasons. Perhaps the parent of the child has been incarcerated and is unable to take care of the child, or maybe the biological parents are dead and the child needs to be placed with a new legal guardian.

FindLaw states that it could be very difficult for grandparents to attain custody of a child if it is against the wishes of the child's biological parent or parents. A judge in Harris County will most often consider the child's best interest as the main factor in making any child custody decision, including decisions that involve grandparent custody. It is sometimes found to be in the child's best interest to have a grandparent take care of a child.

Mother Loses Custody of Her Kids After Attempted Suicide

Harris County authorities say that Tricia Gamblin tried to kill herself and her three children last December when she got into a car with her children and turned on the engine while the vehicle was still in their garage with the door closed. Eventually, Gamblin apparently gathered her children, ages 3, 5 and 6, and put them into the living room area of the home.

KPRC Houston reports that the mother now denies that she ever tried to hurt her kids, but did admit to detectives that she tried to kill herself by exposing herself to the high levels of carbon monoxide. This brings up the question of whether Gamblin is emotionally stable enough to raise three young children. Neighbors say that Gamblin is a good mother, but a family court judge could disagree based on the dramatic incident.

Senate Bill 16: Discouraging Abortions With Sonograms?

The Senate State Affairs Committee approved a bill last week that if passed into a law would require a physician to perform a sonogram on a pregnant woman at least 24 hours before performing an abortion. In addition, Senate Bill 16 will require doctors performing an abortion to inform the patient about alternatives to the procedure that could be useful to the mother, including new mother services, adoption agencies, and child support information.

Austin News KXAN reports that Gov. Rick Perry has declared SB 16 as an emergency piece of legislation, which means that the bill is on the fast track to being heard on the Senate floor. The bill must be heard in the first 60 days of the legislative session.

Olga Lidia Perez-Monjaras Accused of Interfering With Child Custody

If you're unhappy with a child custody decision that a family court judge makes, it's a bad idea to take the child away from the custodial parent and flee the area. Doing so can result in criminal charges and a court order that gives you even less visitation time with the child than you may already have.

Perhaps 32-year-old Olga Lidia Perez-Monjaras will learn this lesson the hard way. ABC News reports that the non-custodial mother allegedly took her child Katherine Lazo on December 3, 2010 from the child's father's residence and disappeared from the area. She never returned with the child and provided no contact information, address, or telephone number of where she was going.

Divorce Cost & Prep App Can Help People Through The Divorce Process

Are you thinking about filing for a dissolution of marriage, but unaware of how much the divorce process is going to cost? There’s now an app for that!

For just $9.99, iPhone holders can purchase and download the app Divorce Cost & Prep. According to DivorceApps.com, the mobile application is supposed to help smartphone users track all of the information that will be required in a divorce case as well as help plan for the necessary costs for divorce, including the cost of legal counsel. The app was created by family lawyers in Dallas, Texas and is an example of how family law specialists all over the country are taking on new initiatives to educate people about divorce costs and procedures.

Budget Cuts Impact Foster Care Facilities in Texas

The state's Department of Family and Protective Services is facing funding cuts, which means that foster children could be struggling to find permanent homes this year. The Houston Chronicle reports that the Senate's current budget proposal does not provide funding for the state's caseload growth and is asking for caseworkers to take on 15 percent more cases.

What does this mean for prospective adoptive parents? It looks like the department might not be able to offer financial assistance to families adopting children, which has traditionally been a way to encourage Texas families to adopt.

Holly Vadelund's Child in Room During Meth Bust

Endangering a child is a serious offense in the state of Texas and could lead to a parent or guardian having his or her parental rights terminated by a judge. One case in Lufkin, Texas demonstrates how a child had to be taken away from his mother after the mother was found in a motel meth lab with the child.

KTRE reports that Angelina County authorities arrested 20-year-old Holly Vadelund and four others on Wednesday after lawmen said they found methamphetamine and other chemicals in a motel room while Vadelund's two-to-three year-old son was present. Vadelund has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, engaging in organized criminal activity and endangering a child.

Divorce Granted to Eva Longoria and Tony Parker in Texas

While the Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria filed for a divorce petition in Los Angeles last year, E! Online reports that she and her husband Tony Parker decided to officially dissolve their marriage in Texas, where the process of divorce is a bit more simple. Because a prenuptial agreement was signed in Texas before the couple married in 2007, Parker and Longoria were able to move through the divorce process quite quickly with few legal hurdles.

Longoria's family law attorney later asked for the divorce petition to be dismissed in Los Angeles and on January 29, a judge in Texas officially granted a divorce to the couple. As we reported in an earlier blog post, the Lone Star State requires only a 60-day waiting period between the time of the divorce filing and the time of when the divorce decree is finalized. Other U.S states, like California, require an uncontested divorce to have a waiting period of at least six months.