July 2011 News: The Houston Family Law Blog

The Houston Family Law Blog

July 2011 Archives

Kelly Brantley, a Houston area mom of two, who became a beauty queen when she was chosen Ms. Harris County, has been reportedly keeping her children from their father Robert Zach for two years, even as he has been suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease, reports Fox 26 Houston.

Brantley went to court to argue that keeping the children away from the father was in the best interests of the children, reports Fox 26. The judge ordered the daughters be allowed to see their father. He further required that the families "mend" their fences. Fox 26 is not clear about what initially caused the rift between the families. No mention of child support history was made.

Texas Polygamist Sect Leader Warren Jeffs Fires Another Attorney

Texas polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs goes through lawyers like he did wives. Jeffs recently fired his seventh attorney, reports KTRK Houston, and now has decided to go it alone -- something he presumably didn't try with marriage.

Jeffs was arrested in 2008, during a raid at Yearning for Zion, located about 45 miles south of San Angelo. More than 400 children were taken away from the compound, as well as women who looked like they were from the 19th century.

The investigation had been triggered by an anonymous call to an abuse shelter, which is what allowed the authorities to get a search warrant. While on the compound the authorities discovered that there were girls as young as eleven who were pregnant.

Things are changing for Black and Latino families in Houston.

In the news there are a couple of items of significance that speak directly to the experience of Black and Latino families in the greater Houston area.

The first is an investigative report by the Houston Chronicle regarding the changing demographics of various historically black neighborhoods in Houston.

Possible Domestic Dispute Leads to Man Jumping Out Window

A forty-two-year-old man wakes up early in the morning and finds his apartment building burning. He can't get out through the doors so he jumps out of the second story window.

These were the circumstances facing a man at a Houston apartment fire, reports Erik Barajas of KTRK-TV Houston. That man jumped out the window and landed on asphalt, injuring himself severely, fracturing his back and ankle.

The police are investigating the cause of the blaze; but there are some leads, and they might have to do with a domestic dispute.

Prince Leonard, a married father of six, whose family had been living in a storage shed, had his children taken away by Child Protective Services early in July, reported KHOU Houston.

CPS came in and took the children when a passerby saw the children and reported them.

But there was a happy ending lining to the story.

Serious Manhunt for Man Owing More than $10,000 Since '97

Terms like "manhunt" and "grand jury" and "fugitive" are usually associated with high drama from Hollywood, or reserved for devious criminals trying to flee a dogged FBI agent. However, recently a Houston grand jury convened to launch a manhunt for a doctor who's accused of failing to pay his child support for more than a decade, reports KTRK Houston.

The investigation into this man's conduct -- identified as Dr. Wendell Marshall -- was carried out by a joint task-force made up of an entire conglomeration of governmental agencies which included: Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, and the United State Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Texas with assistance from the United States Attorney's Office in Mississippi, reports the Humble Observer.

Same-Sex Houston Couple Fighting to Keep Spouse from Deportation

On Thursday morning, a court in Houston was asked to halt the deportation of David Gonzalez, a 35 year old accountant from Costa Rica, who had overstayed his tourist visa and gotten married to a U.S. Citizen named Mario Ramirez in California in 2008, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Gonzalez and Ramirez were married in California before Proposition 8 made same-sex marriages illegal there. They then moved to Texas for better job opportunities.

If the two men were a heterosexual married couple, they would be able to file for a green card based on their marriage.

German Ortiz Sanchez Flees After Injury to a Child Accusation

German Ortiz Sanchez, a resident of North Austin, is now a fugitive on the run after being accused of severely injuring his two-month-old daughter, reports The Statesman.

Authorities believe 38-year-old Ortiz Sanchez has fled to Mexico based on information provided by his wife, Adelaida Escobar, according to an arrest affidavit. Ortiz Sanchez is facing a potential felony charge of injury to a child after an incident with his wife that occurred at his North Austin apartment last month.

Transgender Widow Nikki Araguz Denied Retrial

The saga seems to be over for Nikki Araguz, the transgender widow of fallen Wharton County firefighter Thomas Araguz III, after a judge denied her retrial request for her claim to her husband's death benefits, reports FOX 26 News.

Previously, another Wharton County judge had ruled in June that Araguz's common-law marriage to Thomas was invalid, leaving her unable to collect a penny from his $600,000 estate. Texas currently does not recognize same-sex marriages, and Araguz had undergone reassignment surgery after her marriage. She responded with a motion for a new trial in order to have the judge reexamine the case and allow a jury trial.

Houston Rapper Scarface Behind Bars Over Child Support

It has been since October 2010 and counting. Yes, it has been seven months since Houston rapper Scarface has been behind bars for refusal to pay child support. MTV.com reports the rapper is in jail in Harris County where he will likely remain until the outstanding amounts are paid.

As of the first of July, Scarface is facing four separate claims for support, from four separate women. MTV puts the amounts owed at $93,376, $50,000, a third bond for $30,000 and the fourth at $500, bringing the total to $173,876.

SB 785 Allows Fathers to Challenge Paternity

Fathers now have the right to file a petition in court and submit to DNA testing if they have reason to believe that they are not the father of a child that they once claimed was theirs, reports The Beaumont Enterprise. Thanks to Senate Bill 785, men can now challenge paternity and can have their child support obligations terminated if a judge finds that a person has been wrongfully declared the father.

SB 785 passed in the Texas Legislature in May with a unanimous vote in both the House and the Senate. The law went into effect immediately and is now has the potential to help out dads around the state who have been victims of paternity fraud.