Mark Nacol

New Texas Law SB 555 Protective Orders For Pets or Companion Animals : Effective Sept. 1, 2013

Many victims of domestic violence often refuse to leave an unsafe environment since many times they must leave their pet behind. These victims many times leave in such a hurry that their pets are unable to join them. The perpetrator of the domestic violence will threaten or harm the pet as a means to intimidate and gain leverage over their victims.

Texas SB 555 amends Family Law Section 85.021, to authorize a court in a protective order, to take certain actions, including prohibiting a party from removing a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal from the possession of the actual or constructive care of a person named in the order.

Texas SB 555 also amends Section 25.07 (Violation of Certain Court Orders or Conditions of Bond in a Family Violence Case) of the Penal Code to expand the definition of “possession” to mean actual or constructive care of an animal. Finally, SB 555 now amends the current law relating to provisions in protective orders regarding pets and other companion animals and provides a penalty for any offense committed by a person if that person harms a pet!

By Nacol Law Firm | UPDATE! New Texas Laws
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Texas’ Law for Mistaken Paternity: Texas SB785

We hear a lot about dead-beat dads, or parents who do not pay their child support obligations. 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 passed a new Paternity law, Texas SB785, effective May 13, 2011, which permits men 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.

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 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 knew 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.

This 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.

Even if the parent-child relationship is terminated, the man may request the court to order period 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’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. A man must file the petition to determine genetic parentage no later than the first anniversary of the date on which he becomes aware of facts indicating the he is not the child’s genetic father. Contact an attorney now!

By Nacol Law Firm | Paternity
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STAY AT HOME DADS – A Shift in Trend

If you turn on the television you will see a Mother seeing Dad off to work and then tending to the children and baking some brownies for the upcoming bake sale.  In actuality, such a lifestyle in America rarely reflects the real modern day family.  

The number of stay-at-home dads has increased in popularity and occurrence over the years and is notably on the rise in Texas.  Could a reversal of old traditional roles be on the increase in this recession? Women are less affected by layoffs and have a better legal posture due to Affirmative Action.  Recent studies from the Pew Research Center found a third of all wives earn more than their husbands.  Or, is it simply a honest and legitimate desire for some men who recently became fathers in the past decade to be the primary caregiver?  Whatever the reason is, many men enjoy it, and many current studies are positively supporting this untraditional position.

Researchers and psychologists are finding a father’s role to be as or more influential than that of a mother in the first five years of the child’s development and that fathers play a key role in the “gender” role identification of their children.  Some proclaim that having the dad as the primary caretaker properly prepares children for life lessons.  Mothers reassure their small ones during a frustrating situation, while fathers encourage their little ones to manage the situation.  Statistics have shown that children are smarter with a stay-at-home dad and are less likely to focus on gender issues, such as a “No Boys Allowed” sign outside their bedroom door.  A father’s guidance can promote a greater level of curiosity, greater emotional balance, and a stronger sense of confidence.  The Center for Successful Fathering in Austin, Texas cites that fathers who are an active participant in parenting produce children who makes higher grades, have greater ambition, show fewer anxiety disorders, and enjoy a reduced risk of juvenile delinquency or teen pregnancy.

Mothers are getting a pretty good deal as well.  They have the security in knowing that their babies are being looked after by a loved one.  This relieves stress and worry that occurs while children are in day care.  Apart from the safety and family treatment of their children, mothers know that a strong bond is forming between their little one and dad.  Fathers who work outside the home sometimes have a difficult time connecting with their babies, but that doesn’t appear to hold true for mothers.  Mothers can build bonds despite working outside of the home and not spending as much time with their children.  No one can be 100% sure why this holds true, it just appears to be the case.  Mothers can also find comfort in knowing that the fathers will instill values.  Its one thing knowing your child is being molded by someone else’s values; it’s quite another knowing you are paying top dollar for it.  Fortune Magazine reported that over a third of its “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” had a stay-at-home spouse.

As far as social integration, stay-at-home dads may have an advantage.  For example, at school the “alpha” mom doesn’t feel threaten by a dad taking a leading role in the PTA, nor does a dad feel like he has to compete with the “alpha” mom.  People are more likely to cater to a father when he walks into a store with his children, whereas if the mom walks in with kids she often receives a look like: Please don’t let her children break anything.

What are the disadvantages of dad staying at home?  A father who chooses to stay home and not work may suffer from the employment gap. Future potential employers may think they have lost or reduced their business skills and expertise when trying to reenter the work field.  Alternatively, not all dads who stay home choose not to work. The numbers of stay-at-home dads consist of not only fathers who do not work, but also fathers who work part time or work from their homes.  Another disadvantage may be that the arrangement is simply not financially workable, so the family may struggle with implementing their decision.

The mom stays at home trend has shifted and the growing idea of Stay-At-Home Dads is becoming an accepted reality in today’s world. In the next five years, you may turn on the television and see dad seeing mom off to work and then tending to the children, and possibly even baking some brownies for the upcoming bake sale.

Stay-at- home dads are still fighting old myths and prejudices, but make no mistake: kids are in very good hands with dad.

By Nacol Law Firm | Stay At Home Dads
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Rights and Duties of a Parent – Joint Managing Conservator in Texas

Rights and Duties of a Parent –  Joint Managing Conservator in Texas.
Waiver To the Guidelines is a Matter of Court Discretion

As a joint managing conservator of a child in a divorce proceeding in Texas, unless special circumstances arise justifying a variance from the Guidelines, the Court will normally order guideline code rights and duties and a parent will be awarded the following:

1.the right to receive information from any other conservator of the child concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child.

2.the right to confer with the other parent to the extent possible before making a decision concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child.

3.the right of access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child.

4.the right to consult with a physician, dentist, or psychologist of the child.

5.the right to consult with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities.

6.the right to attend school activities.

7.the right to be designated on the child’s records as a person to be notified in case of an emergency.

8.the right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child.

9.the right to manage the estate of the child to the extent the estate has been created by the parent/conservator or the parent/conservator’s family.

10.the duty to inform the other conservator of the child in a timely manner of significant information concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child; and

11.the duty to inform the other conservator of the child if the conservator resides with for at least thirty days, marries, or intends to marry a person who the conservator knows is registered as a sex offender under chapter 62 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or is currently charged with an offense for which on conviction the person would be required to register under that chapter.  IT IS ORDERED that this information shall be tendered in the form of a notice made as soon as practicable, but not later than the fortieth day after the date the conservator of the child begins to reside with the person or on the tenth day after the date the marriage occurs, as appropriate.  IT IS ORDERED that the notice must include a description of the offense that is the basis of the person’s requirement to register as a sex offender or of the offense with which the person is charged.  WARNING:  A CONSERVATOR COMMITS AN OFFENSE PUNISHABLE AS A CLASS C MISDEMEANOR IF THE CONSERVATOR FAILS TO PROVIDE THIS NOTICE.

12.the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child.

13.the duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, and medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure.

14.the right to consent for the child to medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure.

15.the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child.

16.Only one parent shall have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of child in a specific geographical area, which is commonly the county in which the child currently resides and the contiguous counties thereto.

17.the right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures may be subject to agreement, an independent right or an exclusive right;

18.the right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment of the child may be subject to agreement, an independent right or an exclusive right;

19.Only one parent shall have the exclusive right to receive and give receipt for periodic payments for the support of the child and to hold or disburse these funds for the benefit of the child;

20.the right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child may be subject to agreement, an independent right or an exclusive right;

21.the right to consent to marriage and to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States may be subject to agreement, an independent right or an exclusive right;

22.the right to make decisions concerning the child’s education may be subject to agreement, an independent right a joint right or an exclusive right;

23.except as provided by section 264.0111 of the Texas Family Code, the right to the services and earnings of the child may be subject to agreement, an independent right or an exclusive right;

24.except when a guardian of the child’s estate or a guardian or attorney ad litem has been appointed for the child, the right to act as an agent of the child in relation to the child’s estate if the child’s action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government may be subject to agreement, an independent right or an exclusive right; and

25.the right to manage the estate of the child to the extent the estate has been created by community property or the joint property of the parent/conservator may be subject to agreement, an independent right or an exclusive right.

In accordance with section 153.001 of the Texas Family Code, it is the public policy of Texas to assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child, to provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child, and to encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.  The Court will therefore normally establish the primary residence of the child in the county where the child currently resides and/or a contiguous county thereto, and the parties shall not remove the child from such county for the purpose of changing the primary residence of child until there is a modification to the existing order of the court of continuing jurisdiction or a written agreement signed by the parties and filed with the court.

The geographical restriction on the residence of the child may be lifted or modified if, at the time the primary parent with the right to establish residence wishes to remove the child from the county for the purpose of changing the primary residence of the child, the other parent does not reside in that county or a contiguous county thereto.

Time constraints, employment issues of the primary Joint Managing Conservator, and other material factors may come into play when a Joint Managing Conservator requests waiver of the geographical restrictions.  It customarily is a very difficult, but not always insurmountable, burden to achieve a geographical restriction waiver.  The success, consistency and regularity of the non-primary conservator’s possession and access to the child is a factor the court will view in making a ruling.  Frequently, an agreement to adjust the amount of support and/or transportation costs comes into play in resolving such disputes.

By Nacol Law Firm | Child Custody . Possession of Children
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TIME IS TICKING on the New Texas Mistaken Paternity Law

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 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 must 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 knew 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 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’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 must file the petition before September 1, 2012. If you wait to file for relief, you will be barred! Contact an attorney now!

By Nacol Law Firm | Paternity
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