Determining paternity and establishing child support can be overwhelming and confusing. Parents must deal not only with their work life and their home life, but with the often-frustrating bureaucracy of the court process. Stress is heavy, emotions are high and the process is rarely easy if contested.
In this challenging time, many non-custodial parents could benefit from some straightforward tips about paternity and child support. In this blog post, we'll go over a few pointers that may help you save time, learn about the process and resolve your case.
- Don't ignore a court summons
Some non-custodial parents are tempted to avoid court in the hope that their hearing will be delayed or rescheduled. However, it is far better to go to court than to skip out on your summons. Even if you are not present, the court can still make decisions about your case. You may have a better chance of receiving a desirable outcome if you go to court and state your side of the case, as opposed to failing to appear and having the Court issue default orders in your absence without your position being considered at all.
- Not certain? Don't sign
At some point during your case, you may be faced with legal documents to sign. Even if the paperwork seems innocuous, be certain that you understand and agree with everything before you sign. Once you sign a legal document, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to reverse the action.
- Consider opening a case with the OAG
If the Office of The Attorney General ("OAG") has not yet filed something in your case, you may wish to open a child support case with the Office of the Attorney General. Doing this can help protect your rights as your child's non-custodial parent. Through the OAG, you may be able to request fair custody, visitation, and child support payments, and may request genetic testing to determine paternity. Such testing may be free if you open a case through the OAG.
Non-custodial parents and legal options
Some non-custodial parents feel that they are at a disadvantage with their child's custodial parent. The Texas court system does not necessarily favor custodial parents, but it is still crucial that non-custodial parents know that they have access to several legal options. You may wish to consult with an experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney in regard to the options available to you.