The Houston Family Law Blog

May 2010 Archives

How many bar owners in the Lone Star state are behind on child support payments? Apparently, there are enough evaders that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) feels the need to start cracking down on the issue.

A TABC press release states that the commission is now suspending the license to serve alcohol if the license holder is delinquent with child support payments. The Office of the Attorney General already works with other state agencies, besides TABC, to suspend professional licenses and driver's licenses of parents who owe child support. Yet some Texas family law attorneys may argue that this new regulation is going a little too far.

Houston Ranked As One Of Texas' Best Cities to Raise Kids

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BusinessWeek has released their annual rankings of the best places to raise children. With each U.S state, one town and two runner-up cities were chosen as the most family friendly cities based on a number of factors including school performance, number of schools, household expenditures, crime rates, air quality, job growth, family income, museums, parks, theaters, other amenities, and diversity. The selections across the United States were limited to towns that have at least 45,000 residents and a median income between $40,000 and $125,000.

In an earlier blog post, we discussed studies that showed parents with autistic children having higher rates of divorce than parents who did not have children with autism. The National Autism Association found that 80 percent of couples that had children with autism ended their relationship in a divorce.

However, the Baltimore Sun reports that there are now new studies that disprove this theory. Texas family law attorneys may agree that having special needs children doesn't mean that you're necessarily more likely to get a divorce.

Why Get an Annulment Instead of Divorce?

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In the state of Texas, it can be very difficult to get an annulment. Texas family law attorneys say that family courts rarely grant annulments because of the specific criteria that must be met for such a procedure.

In an earlier blog post, we discussed the grounds for an annulment in the Lone Star state. Such grounds include marriage is to someone under the age of 18, if the marriage took place under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if a spouse is unable to consummate the marriage, if an individual was threatened to get married, or if a spouse had a pre-marriage mental illness that was concealed from the other spouse. These are the only circumstances that are typically grounds for annulment.

A San Antonio bus driver was shocked when he saw an infant sitting in the middle of the busy street of South Flores. Fortunately, the driver was able to stop the bus and rescue that same child. But the bus driver had the same question on his mind that most other people are probably wondering: Where were the parents?

NBC News reports that the child's father came running out onto the street that night after he had heard the bus's brakes and horn. The parents said that they had no idea of how their daughter Destiny Flores, who is now two-years-old -- one year after the incident, got out of the house. As a result, the parents may lose child custody.

This particular incident prompted Child Protective Services to get involved. The agency investigated the family and now has other reasons for concern.

Texans Accused of Marriage Fraud

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Many people are probably aware that a quick way to become a legal resident of the United States is to marry a U.S. citizen. This is considered the fast track to becoming eligible for permanent residency in this country. However, participating in such actions are illegal and can lead to severe consequences, as this is marriage fraud.

Associated Press reported that a federal grand jury in Houston recently indicted three Americans and three Cambodian nationals for allegedly being involved in a visa fraud scheme through a "bogus marriage." Three of these people were arrested in the Houston area, another two suspects were arrested in the town of Midland, and the last person was arrested in Pasadena.

Man Dies During Child Custody Exchange

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Child custody battles aren't supposed to be violent, but a child custody exchange turned deadly last week after a Texas father was fatally shot in front of his own children. It's not exactly clear of what led to the man's murder, but killing the father probably wasn't in the best interest of the kids.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the victim, Richard Benovic, died in the parking lot of a Denton City Hall building after he was allegedly shot by retired federal law enforcement officer Gary Landers. The retired officer is a companion of Richard Benovic's ex-wife. The child custody exchange was set to occur at the City Hall East parking lot, near the Police Department, because Richard Benovic and his ex-wife had reportedly had a history of violence. Their two children are ages 9 and 13.

Child Support Comes into Play With Ike Recovery Money

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There's now a new reason for Texan non-custodial parents to not fall behind on child support payments. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs recently announced that parents cannot owe back child support if they want to be eligible for Community Development Block grant money. Such grant money will go to homeowners that had a house damaged from Hurricane Ike in 2008.

The Galveston County Daily News reports that the state housing agency added no outstanding child support payments as an eligibility requirement for the grant money, even though child support payments are not an eligibility requirement for the federal government. This is because several Texas laws prohibit the state from granting money to people who owe debts to the state of Texas.

Jesse James and Sandra Bullock File For Divorce in Texas

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Actors Jesse James and Sandra Bullock filed for a divorce in Austin, Texas on April 23, leaving Texas family law attorneys to settle the legal drama. But perhaps their split won't be too dramatic in the Texas family courts.

Because Sandra Bullock maintains a home in Austin, she and her husband had the option to go through the divorce proceedings in Texas or in California, where they own property and work. E! Online reports that there are many advantages to filing for a divorce in Texas, as opposed to the Golden state.

Does Texas Allow Transgender Marriages?

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There's much debate among Texas family law attorneys on whether the state should have issued a marriage license to a transgender woman who wanted to marry her long-time girlfriend. There are state laws that clearly ban gay marriage, but what about transgender marriage?

The Austin Statesman reports that a woman named Sabrina Hill used to be a man before her sex change operation. On her New York birth certificate, she is listed as a man named Virgil. Yet on her Arizona driver's license, she is listed as a female. It raises the question of how sex should even be determined in marriage cases.

May is National Foster Care Month

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In the merry month of May, people across the country are teaching others about how foster care affects hundreds of thousands of children and families. It's National Foster Care Month -- a campaign to heighten the visibility of children in foster care. The campaign primarily focuses on older youth who are about to age out of the foster care system. reports that the awareness month came about in 1988, and has since gained much recognition in the appreciation for foster parents. According to the website, there are currently 463,000 children who have been placed in out-of-home care and an estimated 12 million children who are foster care alumni.

Man on Texas List Of Child Support Evaders Arrested

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Don't mess with Texas if you are a child support evader. According to Texas AG Greg Abbott, if a non custodial parent becomes a child support evader and fails to pay child support, the Child Support Division can make that parent pay.

Some of the tactics that the Texas Child Support Division can use are deducting the child support from the non custodial parent's paycheck directly, intercepting federal income tax refund checks or lottery winnings, filing liens on that parent's property, suspending their licenses, and filing a lawsuit against the parent. That child support evader can also be sentenced to jail.