Time is about up on the Amnesty Provision of the New Texas Mistaken Paternity Law: September 1, 2012!
Think you are the “Father” before the birth of the child and would like to find out using a new procedure? Now you are in luck! A new blood test has just become available which can determine paternity as early as the eighth week of pregnancy without an invasive procedure that could potentially cause a miscarriage. This new test requires only blood samples from the pregnant woman and the potential father. The price of the prenatal testing is currently around $1500.00.
What does Texas Family Code 160.502 say about this genetic testing before the birth of the child? A court shall order a child on prima fascia proof and other designated individuals to submit to genetic testing if the request is made by a party to determine parentage. If a request for genetic testing of a child is made before the birth of the child, the court or support enforcement agency may not order utero testing. If two or more men are subject to court-ordered genetic testing, the testing may be ordered concurrently or sequentially.
Now it is time for “fathers” or men who have been paying child support for children who are not their biological children to assert their rights.
Texas new law, Texas SB785, permits men on prima fascia proof who have been ordered to pay child support, without genetic testing, to request genetic testing in order to determine whether they are the genetic parent of the child.
But the clock is ticking. If you suspect that you are paying child support for a child who is not your biological child, you should file the petition before September 1, 2012.
After September 1, 2012, a man must file a petition to determine genetic parentage no later than the first anniversary of the date on which he becomes aware of facts indicating that he is not the child’s genetic father.
In order to file for relief under this new law, the man must have signed an acknowledgement of paternity or failed to contest paternity in the previous proceeding because of a mistaken belief that he was the child’s father based on misrepresentations that led him to that conclusion.
If the man had knowledge he was not the father at the time he signed the acknowledgement of paternity or the previous court order, the new law does not apply.
If the genetic testing concludes that the man is not the child’s genetic father, the court shall render an order terminating the parent-child relationship and terminating the man’s obligation for future child support. The law further provides that he may not be held in contempt by the court for arrearage if the test is negative.
The new order, however, does not affect the man’s obligations for child support or child support arrearages accrued before the date of the order. However, the accrued obligations are not enforceable by contempt proceedings.
If the court order states that the father listed on the birth certificate is not the biological father and the information can be removed from the birth record, then the birth certificate can be revised as well.
Even if the parent-child relationship is terminated, the man may request the court to order periods of possession or access to the child following the termination. The court may order periods of possession or access to the child only if the court determines that denial of possession or access would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being. The law directs the court to focus on the child’s well-being, not on the man or the mother’s wishes with regard to the man’s desire to continue seeing the child.
If you have been paying child support due to a mistaken belief that you were the father, the time to act is now. Remember the clock is ticking! If you suspect that you are paying child support for a child who is not your biological child, you should file the petition before September 1, 2012. If you wait to file for relief, you may be barred! Contact an attorney now!
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a generally recognized platform that may result in child abuse. This occurs when a custodial parent of a child from a separated family uses deception to deliberately alienate children from their non custodial parent.
Misplaced Domestic Violence Restraining and Protective Orders are an excellent tool to advance the Alienating Parent’s malice! Misguided Protective Orders of a Court based on such false representations may remove the Accused Abuser Parent from the home, bar the Accused Abuser from seeing his/her children and give the Alienating Parent total physical custody of the children. The Accused Abuser Parent is now effectively “Guilty Until Proven Innocent”.
Once the Alienator obtains a Restraining Order through false domestic violence allegations, the Accused Abuser Parent may find it difficult to defend himself or herself against the false allegations. This sends the implied message to the children that “Daddy/Mommy” is bad or dangerous, stamped by the court.
The Accused Abuser Parent may only see his/her children in a cold and uninviting supervised visitation setting. Supervised Visitation Centers are facilities where a child is taken to meet with the Accused Abuser Parent in a third party monitored location. A third party observes the Accused Abuser Parent during their visit with their children so that the child is “protected” at all times.
Often the supervised visit is demeaning for the visiting parent in the eyes of his/her child. The impression to the child that “Daddy or Mommy” is dangerous comes across loud and clear since most children only see lock up situations on TV and these people are seriously viewed as being bad.
Many Alienating Parents use this scary situation to encourage their child not to see the Accused Abuser Parent at all. The more time a child is out of contact with the Alienated Parent the deeper the scaring and recovery period for that child.
Dr. Richard A. Gardner coined the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome” (PAS) in 1985. Dr. Gardner found that a child subjected to continual negativity and manipulation by the Custodial Parent over an extended period of time against the other parent would eventually adapt the distorted view presented. At the end of the day, what the Alienating Parent fails to understand is that his/her selfishness makes his/her child the “victim” who pays a hefty price in lost self esteem.
Unfortunately, False Domestic Violence Allegations have become more common in Divorce / Child Custody Proceedings. Most Judges usually enter a restraining or protective order for the safety of the child and in too many cases an Accused Abuser Parent is guilty until proven innocent!
Under the Texas Family Code, a spouses separate property consists of 1) the property owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage; 2) the property acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift, devise, or descent, and 3) the recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage.
The terms “owned and claimed” as used in the Texas Family Code mean that where the right to the property accrued before marriage, the property would be separate. Inception of title occurs when a party first has a right of claim to the property by virtue of which title is finally vested. The existence or nonexistence of the marriage at the time of incipiency of the right of which title finally vests determines whether property is community or separate. Inception of title occurs when a party first has a right of claim to the property.
Under Texas Constitution, Art. XVI, Section 15, separate property is defined as all property, both real and personal, of a spouse owned or claimed before marriage, and that acquired afterward by gift, devise or descent, shall be the separate property of that spouse; and laws shall be passed more clearly defining the rights of the spouses, in relation to separate and community property; provided that persons about to marry and spouses, without the intention to defraud pre-existing creditors, may by written instrument from time to time partition between themselves all or part of their property, then existing or to be acquired, or exchange between themselves the community interest of one spouse or future spouse in any property for the community interest of the other spouse or future spouse in other community property then existing or to be acquired, whereupon the portion or interest set aside to each spouse shall be and constitute a part of the separate property and estate of such spouse or future spouse; spouses may also from time to time, by written instrument, agree between themselves that the income or property from all or part of the separate property then owned or which thereafter might be acquired by only one of them, shall be the separate property of that spouse; if one spouse makes a gift of property to the other that gift is presumed to include all income or property which might arise from that gift of property; and spouses may agree in writing that all or part of the separate property owned by either or both of them shall be the spouses’ community property.
In 1917 the Legislature defined and income from separate property to be the separate property of the owner spouse. In Arnold v. Leonard, 114 Tex. 535,273 S.W. 799 (1925), the Supreme Court held that the Legislature did not have the constitutional authority to characterize the income from separate property as the owner’s separate property. The court explained that the Legislature’s authority was limited to enacting laws regulating the management and liability of marital property, not its separate or community character. This decision strengthened the constitutional principal that the Legislature may not define what is community and separate property in a manner inconsistent with Article 16, Section 15 of the Texas Constitution.
There are numerous means by which separate property may be acquired in defiance of Article 16, Section 15, a partial list includes mutations of separate property, increases in value of separate land and personality, recovery for personal injury not measured by loss of earning power, improvements of separate land with an unascertainable amount of community funds, and United States Securities purchased with community funds.
Although such property may undergo changes or mutations, as long as it is traced and properly identified it will remain separate property.
The Texas Family Code defines community property as follows: “community property consists of the property, other than separate property, acquired by either spouse during marriage.”
Texas Family Code, Section 3.003 states that all property possessed by either spouse during or at the dissolution of the marriage is presumed to be community property and that the degree of proof necessary to establish that property is separate property, rather than community property, is clear and convincing evidence. Clear and convincing evidence is defined as that measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established. If property cannot be proved to be separate property, then it is deemed to be community property.
The Texas Family Code, Section 7.002, deals with quasi-community property and requires a court divide property wherever the property is situated, if 1) the property was acquired by either spouse while domiciled in another state and the property would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property had been domiciled in Texas at the time of acquisition; or 2) property was acquired by either spouse in exchange for real or personal property and that property would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property so exchanged had been domiciled in Texas at the time of the acquisition.
What is needed for visitation enforcement?
- A valid court order that has been signed by a judge or issued by the district clerk’s office, certified as having been signed by a judge.
- Be sure to read your order thoroughly. If you do not understand any of the provisions, take it to an attorney and have them explain it to you.
- The custodial parent must have been validly served with the court order or it must be shown that the they had prior knowledge of the court order and its content.
- The custodial parent must have full knowledge of the above two factors and must be intentionally and willfully violating the court order.
Despite the fact that you may have a valid court order, many police departments do not want to get involved in enforcing civil orders. If you call the police department and show them the order they may or may not assist you in gaining access to your children. Despite whether you get your children or not, you need to ask them to create a police report stating that you were there to pick up your children and noting the time and date you were present. If the police refuse to prepare a report, go to a local grocery store or fast food restaurant and purchase something so that you have a receipt stating that you were in the area and stating the date and time you were there.
How to prove a denial of visitation.
Take a witness along with you – preferably an off-duty constable or deputy or neutral party. Have your witness stay in the vehicle, but with the window down so that he/she can hear any conversations that take place. Have your vehicle parked in such a way that the witness can see you at all times.
Take a copy of your divorce decree along with you which shows you are suppose to have possession of your children on the date and time you arrive to pick them up.
Always be on time, and if possible a few minutes early.
If the custodial parent does not answer the door or have the child available to exercise visitation then call the police and request a Police Incident Report. If the police will not issue a police report then make sure you document the incident as best as possible. After two or three violations, take the reports, along with any witness statements, to an attorney to discuss how to bring an enforcement action against the custodial parent who is violating the order.
Take a tape recorder with you, have it running from the time you approach the residence, and do not stop it until you leave. Keep the tape recorder running as you leave the area.
As you approach the residence state the following facts in the recorder: your complete name, the address you are approaching, the reason you are there “I am going to pick up my children as stated in the final decree,” state who is with you and why, state the time of day, state when you are leaving and a brief description of what occurred. Keep a written record of each recording and label them according to date.
Keep a calendar of each denied visitation.
Make sure you have a credible witness each time you try to exercise your possession with your children.
Do not argue with your exhibit-spouse regardless of how angry you are or whether you get your children or not. Staying calm will work in your favor in the long run.
If you file an enforcement action, if the custodial parent continues to deny you visitation after the suit is brought, continue to go and knock on the door to exercise your visitation, as each separate violation of the court order can be used in the enforcement action.
“Mommy and Daddy can’t get along anymore, so we’re going to get a divorce, but we still love you.” Anonymous
Famous last words! Now the Divorce is over and the divorced parents have to deal with each other on working out who may use the tax deductions on the child’s expenses. This is a very serious tax matter for both parents since if done incorrectly; both parties could be audited, with fines, penalties and much ill feeling. Working together on applying for deductions correctly is a good start on joint parenting of your child. You may have both made the decision not to be together, but you should continue after a divorce to make decisions on your child and his/her well-being.
Dependent Exception for Children
A qualifying child for purposes of the child tax credit:
1. Is your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them
2. Under age of 17 at the end of 2011,
3. Did you provide over half of his or her own support for 2011,
4. Did they live with you for more than half of 2011 and are you “the custodial parent”.
5. Did you claim them as dependent on your return?
6. Did you not file a joint return for the year and
7. Are you a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or a U.S. resident alien?
The custodial parent is entitled to take this exemption for their child since the child has lived over 50% of the time with this parent and also provides over 50% of the child’s support.
Then noncustodial parent may be able to take the deduction in specific cases (Non-Custodial Parent Rule):
1. A Custodial parent signs a written IRS declaration giving the noncustodial parent the right to claim the designated child as a dependent for the year.
2. If combined, both parents provide more than half of the child’s support
3. The parents are divorced or separated under a written agreement at the end of the year or have lived apart during the last six months of the year.
4. The child lives with the noncustodial parent more than half the year.
When a parent has equal joint physical custody of the child, it is problematic as to which parent is entitled to the exemption. To avoid the unnecessary expense of confronting this issue both parents should try to come to an agreement as to who will use the child exemption for the year and have the other parent sign an IRS declaration as to the exemption. Always keep a date and time log of when the child is in residence with you during the year and the expenses incurred on their behalf. This log may be very important in resolving many problems by establishing possession times of your child and can be strong evidence in a court of law.
When these requirements are met, the noncustodial parent is eligible for tax breaks with the designated child.
Dependency Exemption Deduction: $3,700 for 2011 and $3,800 for 2012.
Child Tax Credit: This credit is worth up to $1,000 for each eligible child.
Higher Education Tax Credits: American Opportunity can be worth up to $2,5000 during first four years of child’s college education. The Lifetime Learning credit can be worth up to $2,000 and covers usually any higher education tuition costs.
Student Loan Interest Deduction: A deduction up to $2,500 on qualified student loan interest paid by the parent.
Tuition Deduction: The deduction is up to $4,000 for higher education tuition and mandatory enrollment fees.
The noncustodial parent can usually claim the tax breaks below as long as the support and the custody requirements of the noncustodial parent rule are met. The custodial parent can also usually claim these breaks.
1. Itemized deductions for the child’s medical expenses paid by parent.
2. Tax free employer provided healthcare benefits for the child
3. Tax free heath savings account (HAS) distributions to cover the child’s medical expenses
Only A Custodial Parent Is Allowed Tax Breaks:
Head of Household (HOH) Filing: This filing is better than filing as a single taxpayer since the standard deduction is larger and tax brackets are looser.
Tax Free Childcare Assistance: Under an employer plan up to $5,000 in federal income tax free reimbursement for child care expenses.
Earned Income Tax Credit: In 2012, this credit is worth up to $3,169 for one child and up to $5,891 FOR THREE OR MORE CHILDREN. As a parent’s income goes up, the credit is phased out.
Child Care Tax Credit: This credit of between $600 to $1500 for one child, and $1,200 to $2,100 for two or more children, based on a parent’s income.