The Houston Family Law Blog

August 2011 Archives

Past-Due Child Support? Watch out for License Suspension

A lot of Texans paid attention when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that after an arrest for license suspension, former Houston Rockets center Ralph Sampson clarified that he had not had his license suspended for missing child support payments.

Ralph Sampson’s clarification brought to attention the fact that missed child support payments can lead to license suspensions — something most Texans don’t know.

But it is true.

Don't Abandon Children: Use Texas Safe Haven Law

A woman recently left a 4-year-old child at a Houston fire station, reports KHOU Houston, saying she had tried her best to care for him.

The woman was not the child’s biological mother. In fact, no one knows who the child’s mother is. The abandoned child had been with the father, who allegedly has a drug problem and left the child with his neighbor.

The neighbor tried to care for the child for four months and eventually brought him to the fire station where he was accepted under Texas’s safe haven laws.

Divorce Rate USA: The South Has Highest Divorce Rate!

It wasn't enough for the South to be the best at football. Now the South gets to cut the cake for the highest divorce rate, too, leaving the Northeast to have the lowest divorce rate in the United States.

According to the U.S. Census Report, in 2009, the southern part of the country had the highest divorce rate, reports KHOU. The divorce rate in the United States was 9.2 for every 1,000 men and 9.7 for women. However, in the southern parts of the country the divorce rate was a point higher across the board.

LaFond Case: Child's Best Interest Served by Father, Says Court

Lawyers and judges in Texas often point out that in child custody cases they attempt to follow a "best interests of the child" approach, which is part of the Texas Family Code.

However, since many child custody proceedings get sorted out in mediation, it is not always clear what courts mean by "best interests of the child" in Texas.

A recent Texas Supreme Court involving a military father named Ron LaFond and his ex-wife Stephanie Pearson, reported by the Southeast Texas Record, sheds light on what kind of things Texas courts look at when defining "the best interests of the child."

Top 5 Texas Child Custody Myths Debunked

If people have children and they get a divorce, they know that the divorce is not final until some arrangement for children is made. This is called the child custody arrangement.

But maybe because people are so eager to finish their relationship with the other party, a lot of times the first child custody arrangement isn't particularly well thought out.

One reason for this can be that in their first attempt at an agreement, people are not as informed about child custody as they should be. They may be listening to a number of rumors and innuendo.

To help get to some of the truth about child custody laws, here are our picks for the top 5 Texas child custody myths:

Texas Marriage Mecca: Anthropologie's First Bridal Boutique

Anthropologie, the stylish clothing and accessories store, will be opening its first bridal boutique in the U.S. in Houston, reports the Houston Chronicle.

The separate line of bridal clothing, sold under the BHLDN name, is described as "vintage-inspired, bohemian wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses."

So, does the fact that Anthropologie chose to open its first bridal store mean that Texas is some kind of marriage haven?

TX Employers Can Help Collect Child Support: New Hire Reporting

Most people in Texas have come across news of the occasional difficulty of tracking down deadbeat parents -- those that do not pay child support. Certainly, some of the concerned members of the citizenry might have wondered if there is anything they can do to assist the authorities.

Well, if you own a business, there is something you can do to assist with child support collection. It is quite possibly the easiest law that a business can comply with.

Houston Mother Rebekah Sanders Allegedly Kills Her Children

A tragic incident in northwest Harris County has been in the news since early this morning. According to the Houston Chronicle, a young mother named Rebekah Sanders apparently killed her five year old and three year old children, and then tried to kill herself.

The bodies of the children, as well as the wounded mother, were discovered at a home near West Little York. The children are identified as five-year-old Gabrielle Woods and three-year-old Gabriel Sanders. The mother, Rebekah Sanders, was flown to Memorial Hermann hospital. She had been shot in the head and was in critical condition. It is believed that she shot herself.

Daughter Allegedly Made to Videotape Mother in Group Sex

Parental failure hit a new low, or high, in Texas recently.

The Associated Press is reporting that a six year old daughter was allegedly made to videotape her mother engaging in group sex acts at her house.

In an article by the Dallas Morning News, it was revealed that this was not just a one time incident, but allegedly happened at least three different times. The six-year-old daughter was made to videotape her mother having sex with several men.

Polygamist FLDS Leader Warren Jeffs Gets Sex Abuse Conviction

By all accounts, Warren Jeffs considered himself a Prophet and the voice of God. But a jury of his peers convicted him of child sexual assault charges stemming from two child brides he had taken during his time as head of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) community in West Texas, reports the Associated Press.

Jeffs, who acted as his own attorney, because he had fired his seven previous attorneys, did not perform too well during the trial, the Associated Press reported earlier. And threatening the judge and jury with divine punishment did not prevent the prosecutor from introducing evidence that he had fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl.

Lawsuits: A Good Way to Stop Cyberbullying?

According to FindLaw, "cyber bullies" are people who use the Internet, or other forms of media, to tease, harass, embarrass, intimidate or humiliate kids online. Since much of the cyberbullying starts at school, many parents have been forced to have the school officials get involved.

But schools can only do so much. And sometimes parents have to take things into their own hands. A Houston father named Jason Medley seems to have found a good solution to the cyberbullying problem. He filed a lawsuit against the three Kingwood girls that he alleged had made a demeaning Facebook video about his daughter, reports the Houston Chronicle.

The lawsuit led to a settlement between the parents and now the cyberbullying episode is a thing of the past.

Estranged Couple Ends Up in Litigation Over Protective Order

One of the biggest misconceptions about divorce is that after the papers are filed the parties won't have any contact. While there are instances where this is true, many couples continue to fight and end up in litigation. For example, recently on FindLaw's Houston Family Law blog, we discussed a couple that was trying to sort out their massive credit card debt almost two years after their divorce decree.

Further, in those instances where a couple has children, an ex-husband and wife can end up in court countless times over custody, and the legal system can get involved in other ways, too, including criminal charges and even civil lawsuits.

Texas Community Property: Couple Back in Court Over Divorce Debt

Some marriages are "debt-financed" so when they end, there is a whole lot of litigation involving creditors.

That, at least, is what seems to have happened to Maria Theresa Guidry and Monte Guidry, reports the Southeast Texas Record, who are back in court to discuss credit card debts from their marriage, with Theresa Guidry suing her ex-husband for about $71,000.

The conflict emerges out of their divorce settlement in 2009. The ex-husband, Monte Guidry, was supposed to pay off the debt on a Bank of America credit card and to make all reasonable efforts to remove Maria Guidry from the account, as well as to indemnify her against any claims from the credit card company.