The Houston Family Law Blog

June 2010 Archives

Sandra Bullock and Jesse James Sign the Divorce Papers

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Sandra Bullock and Jesse James have officially decided to split up, as they recently signed divorce papers. Unlike many dramatic celebrity divorces, it seems like this one was quick and painless for the couple.

Associated Press reports that the divorce was finalized in Travis County and that both Sandra Bullock and Jesse James will be residing in Austin. Sandra Bullock already owns a home in the area and Jesse James says that he plans on moving to the Lone Star state so that his children can still continue to have a relationship with ex-wife. The exact settlement of the divorce has been sealed by the Texas courts.

ABC Demands Ring Back From Vienna Girardi

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Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi, who became engaged on the most recent season of The Bachelor, are no longer engaged and recently split up. The show's producers seem to be so upset by the breakup that they're asking Vienna to return her $50,000 2.72-carat diamond and platinum ring.

Obama Starts a Conversation About Fatherhood

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President Obama has launched what he calls a national conversation about fatherhood by taking initiatives to hear from fathers and the challenges they face. The Los Angeles Times reports that one of these initiatives includes the Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative, which allows fathers to sign up to receive an e-newsletter with tips and information about fatherhood and mentoring. The Obama administration will also host community forums about fatherhood and personal responsibility around the county.

After more than four years of searching for her missing son, Lorena Perez was finally able to locate her five-year-old child using Facebook. But perhaps all of her troubles could have been avoided if there was a child custody order in place between her and the boy's father, Joseph Vaquera.

ABC News reports that Joseph Vaquera took their son away from the family's San Antonio home in 2006 without permission from Lorena Perez. The mother was never able to press charges against the father, nor was the father able to be charged with a crime for abducting the son, since there was never a child custody order and visitation rights had never been established.

Home Paternity Tests Now Being Sold on the Market

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In many family law cases involving child support, adoption, child custody and visitation, and inheritance, there's a need to legally establish paternity. A paternity test establishes who the biological father is through DNA testing. Texas family law attorneys will often get involved in a case where there's a paternity dispute, but now there's a new home paternity test called Identigene that makes DNA testing easier than ever, because it's sold over the counter at drug stores and pharmacies. states that with Identigene, a DNA sample is collected from each paternity test participant using a cheek swab and that the swabs are tested by an accredited DNA paternity testing laboratory. Participants are usually able to view the paternity results online within 3-5 business days.

Perhaps family drama is contagious in the Gore family. The New York Daily News recently reported that the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore, Karenna Gore Schiff, has separated from her husband Drew Schiff after 12 years of marriage. This news comes just a couple weeks after Al and Tipper Gore announced their separation.

Family law attorneys may say that Karenna Gore Schiff is going through perhaps a more complex separation, since she has three young children with her husband Drew Schiff: Wyatt, 10; Anna, 8; and Oscar, 3. It's been reported that Karenna's parents, Al and Tipper Gore, have been helping their daughter out with the kids.

Texans Check Out Divorce Marketplace For Divorce Resources

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Having trouble coping with a recent divorce? The city of Houston has many services that can help divorcees navigate their way through life as a newly single individual. Just this past weekend, the Crowne Plaza hotel near Sharptown hosted the Divorce Marketplace, a free event that consisted of several groups and businesses trying to empower the newly single individuals.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the main attraction at the Divorce Marketplace is meeting other single people. Yet there were also booths at the Marketplace that advertised dating services, gym memberships, pet adoption and information on obtaining pet custody, therapy services, and information on single parenting. The event also featured several inspirational speakers.

The Cost of Raising a Child

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How much do parents pay for their little bundles of joy? The U.S Department of Agriculture has provided estimates of annual expenditures on children from birth through age 17, since 1960. Such information can help Texas family law attorneys and family court judges determine the amount of child support noncustodial parents should pay.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the cost of raising a child is getting higher, where a child born in 2009 will cost the parents an estimated $222,360 until he or she reaches adulthood. This is up less than 1 percent from the cost of raising a child born in 2008. However, the cost of raising a child rose 15 percent from 1960 to 2008 (which includes adjustments for inflation). The increases are largely due to the increasing costs of health care, child care, and education.

Authorities Arrest Suspect in an Abduction Case From 2003

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A Texan man who allegedly abducted his two children seven years ago in the Lone Star state was recently arrested in Orrstown, Pennsylvania. The abduction case centered around a child custody battle. According to the Houston Chronicle, the suspect is now being held on $500,000 bail.

It looks like 41-year-old Froylan Ocampo Nava will be needing a Houston family law attorney. He has been a wanted man by the FBI and the Harris County Sheriff's Department since 2003 for the alleged interference with the custody of children and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Sheryl Crow Adopts Second Child as a Single Parent

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The Grammy award winning singer Sheryl Crow has a new addition to her family with her newly adopted son Levi James. Levi is the singer's second adopted baby, which gives a new baby brother to Wyatt Crow, who was adopted in 2007.

New York Daily News reported that Sheryl Crow posted the news of her adoption on her website earlier this month. The adoption had reportedly been underway for about a year before she was given custody of the child.

The most famous cardiologist in Houston has surprised Texan residents with legal troubles once again, only this time it's over delinquent child support payments and not the death of a pop star.

Associated Press reports that Dr. Conrad Murray, who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of Michael Jackson, requested a court order in California that would have relieved him of his past due child support payments. However, Santa Clara County Superior Court Commissioners denied the doctor's request and said that he must still pay about $16,000 in back child support to the mother of his 12-year-old son.

Texas family law attorneys will often discourage joint physical custody arrangements between parents because of the complications that could arise. Some parents may see joint custody as the most fair option, but may not realize that such an arrangement can create extra hardships on children.

For this reason, joint physical custody arrangements are rare. FindLaw states that it's common for parents to have a joint legal custody arrangement in place, where both parents share the right to make long-term decisions about the raising of a child. Yet, joint physical custody is often opposed by the family courts because of the potential stress and disruption to a child's routine.