Adoption is one of the more delightful parts of Family Law. It is a beautiful process whereby a child is formally and officially made part of another loving family. For adoption to occur according to Texas adoption laws, at least one of the parents (such as in a step-parent adoption) or both must terminate their rights to that child. This is often best done with help from a Texas adoption lawyer.

Who can be adopted?

In Texas, any single or married adult can adopt a child whose parent-child relationship with one or both of their parents has been terminated. A termination suit can be handled separately or can be joined with an adoption suit by a Texas adoption lawyer. Parents, Legal Guardians, or Adoption Agencies can initiate adoptions; only these individuals may serve as an intermediary in adoption.

Who must be noticed in an adoption and termination?

A key issue for adoption and termination is notice. Legal parents, anyone with court-ordered access, or anyone you allege as a possible father in a petition has right to notice for a termination or adoption under Texas adoption law.

A waiver of citation may be signed prior to filing a termination or even before the child’s birth. The court may order termination if it finds that the parent has executed an unrevoked or irrevocable affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights. This affidavit may have come before or after the filing of the suit.

An affidavit of waiver of interest in a child may be signed prior to the child’s birth. A pre-birth filing of a termination petition, best supervised by a Texas adoption lawyer in a private adoption, requires a statement to confer standing by a pregnant woman or a parent of the child or the biological parent files the termination as the petitioner.

Is there a waiting period for a termination order to be entered?

There is a waiting period for termination with married birth parents. If the adoptive parents have completed a home study, a termination of parental rights can be entered anytime after 40 hours as long as the relinquishment is irrevocable for 60 days, or after 10 days if the relinquishment is revocable for 10 days. For unmarried birth parents, the termination order generally can be entered when the child is more than 31 days old and the adoptive parents have completed a home study; however, if paternity was adjudicated then the newly established father will relinquish under the same rules as married birth parents and the termination order will be entered with the same timeline as married birth parents. A Texas adoption lawyer can help to prepare the necessary termination process.

Must Texas accept another state’s adoption consent form?

One issue with Texas adoption law is whether Texas must accept an adoption consent form of another state if the birth parent delivers in another state and signs that state’s adoption consent. Full Faith and Credit of the United States Constitution requires Texas to accept any other state’s order, but it does not require that it accept the legal documents of another state, limiting the reach of a Texas adoption lawyer. The best course of action in such a scenario would be to hire a local attorney in the other state to make sure you are complying with the requirements. If possible, you should have the birth parents execute Texas documents and finalize the termination and adoption in Texas with the Texas adoptive parents.

How are inheritance rights changed for a newly adopted child?

Lastly, adoption does not change a child’s inheritance rights regarding the parent who relinquished his or her rights. It divests all other legal rights and duties between parent and child except for inheritance rights through the parent whose rights has been terminated. Furthermore, an adoption creates inheritance rights through the adoptive parents.

Thus, if you or a loved one is involved in an adoption or termination suit, or would like to be involved in one, consider your options carefully and consult with the knowledgeable attorneys at Ramos Law Group, PLLC. for an experienced Texas adoption lawyer.

Fatherhood

Termination of parental rights in Texas is the legal process by which a court ends the official parent-child relationship between a child and his or her parent. This process should not be confused with the awarding of sole custody, which is the process by which one parent is granted guardianship of the child and decision-making responsibilities, but visitation rights of the other parent remain. Both termination and custody proceedings are initiated through a lawsuit called Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship, also known as a “SAPCR”.

Grounds for Termination

As a father, it is imperative to have complete understanding of the termination process as the consequences of this act are severe and difficult to reverse. Grounds for termination include the court’s determination that termination is in the best interest of the child, in conjunction with:

  • Voluntary abandonment of the child
  • Knowingly placing the child in harmful conditions
  • Failing to support the child for a period of one year ending within six months of the filing of a termination SAPCR
  • Failure to enroll the child in school
  • Being absent from the child’s home without consent of the other parent or guardian
  • An unrevoked affidavit of relinquishment on file as provided by the Texas Family Code
  • Conviction or being placed on community service or deferred adjudication for crimes against children within Title 3 of the Texas Penal Code
  • Having your parent-child relationship terminated with respect to another child per certain provisions of law
  • Failure to complete required substance abuse treatment programs or continuing to abuse substances following the completion of such program
  • Knowingly engaging in criminal conduct that results in conviction and being imprisoned or otherwise unable to care for the child for more than two years from the date of SAPCR filing
  • Murder or attempted murder of the child’s other parent

Legal Challenges Facing Fathers

As a father, you must be aware of your rights as a parent, as well as defenses against potential claims to end your relationship with your child. For many men familiar with divorce or child custody disputes, it often feels as though the legal system is working against you.

Only 17.5% of fathers are designated as the custodial parent of their children following divorce. While over half of custodial mothers are awarded court-ordered child support, only around a third of custodial fathers are awarded the same –and of that third, only around 9% of fathers actually receive the court-awarded support amount. With the plethora of challenges to fathers rights in Texas, intimate understanding the family court system is a must.

Court Order Required for Termination

When defending your rights as a father, it is necessary to understand how those rights could be taken away. Termination of parental rights in Texas is only able to be effected via court
order.

There are affidavits by which a parent may voluntarily agree to limit their parental rights. First is the Affidavit of Voluntary Relinquishment, by which the parent agrees that a court should terminate his or her interest to a child. A parent may also sign an Affidavit of Waiver of Interest, by which the parent agrees to give up any interest he or she has to a child.

Even if a father signs either of these affidavits, parental rights are actually not terminated until a judge signs a court order terminating those rights. Voluntary relinquishments on their own are insufficient to terminate fathers rights in Texas, so even if you have signed one of these affidavits, know that you still have rights prior to the issuance of a court order.

Be Informed About Protective Orders

Perhaps the single most damaging weapon that is wielded against fathers during custody disputes is the protective order. These legal orders are frequently issued by courts in situations where claims of domestic violence have been alleged. These legal orders require the subject of the order to cease acts of harm and limit contact between the alleged abuser and his or her victims.

Within the context of custody disputes, research has shown that a staggering 70% of abuse allegations are found to be unnecessary or false. Men bear the brunt of the majority of these allegations, making the defense of fathers rights in Texas even more challenging. Protective orders are far too often used as a tool to separate innocent men from their children.

In order for a protective order to be issued, a minimal “preponderance of evidence” is typically all that is required. Therefore, the claimant merely must establish that it is more likely than not that the alleged abuse took place. Since these orders are done on an emergency basis, also known as “ex parte”, the alleged abuser does not get a chance to defend himself or herself, allowing myriad opportunity for an unscrupulous claimant to take advantage of the justice system.

What to Do in the Event of a False Abuse Claim?

It is critical that fathers understand how to protect themselves against false claims of abuse in order to avoid termination of parental rights in Texas. As soon as you learn of a claim of abuse or the issuance of a protective order, it is critical to act immediately. Contact an attorney who specializes in defending fathers rights in Texas, and share with them all of the information you have regarding the claim.

Your attorney will be best suited to guide you with your defense, but will likely advise you to begin gathering evidence to present at your hearing. Texts, emails, recordings and similar materials may support your case or demonstrate the other parent’s lack of fitness to be custodian of your child. It is not uncommon for men to capture evidence showing that the other parent had been threatening to falsely claim abuse in order to gain an advantage within court proceedings or for other ulterior motives.

Most importantly, make sure to maintain your composure throughout the legal process. Avoid the temptation to lash out at your accuser in response to a false claim, and thereby establishing the poor conduct that the claimant is attempting to attach to you. Follow the protective order as directed while it is in place, and focus your energy on ways to better your situation with your children moving forward. Uphold your equanimity at court hearings and visibly show the court that you are not the abuser that you have been labeled. With the help of your attorney, you should be able to demonstrate to the court that you are a loving, supportive father who deserves parental rights and belongs in the lives of your children.

Invaluable Father-Child Bond

Too frequently the importance of a child’s bond with their father is understated. Studies have shown that fathers greatly contribute to the well-being and development of their children. When fathers are allowed to be supportive of their children and involved in their lives, language skills, social development, cognition, self-esteem and other developmental markers, show improvement.

The relationships of fathers with their children frequently set the tone for children’s relationships with others throughout their lives. Children who have good relationships with their fathers also tend to have less behavioral problems, including reduced alcohol and drug abuse issues.

If you find yourself facing termination of parental rights in Texas, make sure to find an attorney who appreciates the importance of your fatherly relationship with your child. You will need an advocate who understands the court system and is willing to fight for your rights –not just as a parent, but specifically in your infinitely important role as a father.

Protect Yourself from Termination of parental rights in Texas

Contact Ramos Law immediately if you are dealing with an issue involving potential termination of parental rights in Texas. We will vigorously defend your rights as a father and guide you through the nuanced challenges facing men during difficult child custody proceedings.

Sources:

  1. http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/FA/htm/FA.161.htm
  2. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/P60-255.pdf
  3. http://www.ecdip.org/docs/pdf/IF%20Father%20Res%20Summary%20(KD).pdf
  4. http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/False-DV-Allegations-Cost-20-Billion

Holiday Activities For Kids in TexasAs the song says ” It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. Lights are glistening all over the city and you can feel the excitement in the air. There is so much to do with the kids. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, it can be something as simple as taking in the lights of the city while enjoying some hot chocolate. I encourage you to take advantage of the many activities throughout the city. You will be making memories for your children that will last a lifetime. Below are just a few of the opportunities going on throughout the city:

1. Zoo Lights

Zoo Lights is held beginning mid November continues on through the month of December. During Zoo lights, the Houston Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland for all ages.

2. Santa’s Wonderland

Santa’s Wonderland, just an hour north of Houston in College Station, is a great time for the whole family. You can buy various tickets for to either drive through the Wonderland, walk or ride on a horse and carriage. After you are through with the lights, you can head in over to the village where you can eat, visit with Santa and warm up with some hot coco.

3. Festival of Lights

Festive of Lights is Galveston’s very own kickoff for the holidays with its annual full of fun, festival. The Festive of Lights is held at Moody Gardens in Galveston. Kids can take pictures with Santa, see the class holiday movies you grew up on a take a walk under the Christmas light displays. The Festival of Lights is held all the way until the New Year and January 7th.

4. Magical Winter Lights

The Magical Winter Lights is happening until January 2nd at Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque where they light up various themed light displays. There is also a kid’s area, arts and crafts, holiday market and more.

5. Lights in the Heights

Lights in the Heights is held in the Heights neighborhood where the whole neighborhood gets in the spirit of the holidays and the event. During the event, people are able to walk throughout the neighborhood while enjoying the live music, food, hot chocolate and lights. Lights in the Heights is held the second Saturday in December (December 9th), however they are often left up throughout the whole season for people to enjoy.

6. Ice Skating at Discovery Green

Especially if the weather has not gotten into winter temperatures, Ice-skating at Discovery Green is the perfect way to cool down, while also getting in the spirit. Additionally, living in Houston, we do not get to experience real ice-skating on frozen ponds in the winter so this is certainly the next best thing. Discovery Green sets up their outdoor rink no matter the temperatures. There is not cost to get into the park but ice-skating will cost you rentals for the skates and entrance to the ice rink itself.

7. Breakfast with Santa

I certainly remember attending this event as a kid and would highly recommend it to anyone with little kids. The Downtown Aquarium restaurant will host its traditional Breakfast with Santa event. Santa may even make an appearance in the 500,000 gallon fish tank!

Agreed DivorceAfter working in family law for the past 14 years from an intern in a local family law court to running my own practice, I have decided to expand our Agreed reduced retainer Family law Services. The services we include:

  • Agreed Divorce
  • Agreed Motion to Modify
  • Agreed Child Name Change
  • Agreed Suit Affecting P/C Relationship (SAPCR)
  • Adult Name Change

New coverage areas for our uncontested reduced retainer services include the following cities:

  • Austin
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • San Antonio

At this point, we will only service counties offering electronic filing as it assures that we can finalize the case quickly without the additional cost of hand delivery or the filing pleadings via USPS.  Additionally, we are ONLY offering our services for agreed family law services including uncontested divorces, name changes, adoptions and agreed modifications.   We take pride in a high level of service to both local and remotely located clients.   If you are looking for a law firm that can get the job done at reduced retainers give us call or send us an email.

For more information please visit our uncontested divorce page.

Retainer AgreementAs an attorney, I often hear clients ask, “What is a retainer?”  Potential clients and existing clients of attorneys are often times misinformed when it comes to understanding what a legal retainer is and how it is used throughout the entirety of their legal case.

A retainer is the fee that the client pays when hiring an attorney to act on his or her behalf.  Typically, the attorney sets the retainer fee prior to taking a client’s case. When a client decides to hire an attorney to represent them in their legal dispute, the attorney will require the client to furnish adequate funds to meet the attorney’s set retainer amount.

Once the client pays the retainer fee, the attorney places the funds in the client’s trust account.  As work is performed on the client’s case, the attorney will deduct his or her expenses related to the case from the retainer, thus decreasing the amount of funds in the client’s trust account.  As the deductions from the retainer decrease the amount of the account, the attorney may require the client to replenish their retainer to ensure the attorney has sufficient funds to adequately represent the client.

The practice of law is a service-based industry and an attorney’s time is his commodity. Attorneys use retainers to solidify the fact that once hired, the attorney now represents the client and will operate off of the client’s retainer account. The retainer allows the attorney to provide necessary services to obtain the client’s goals, including determining and executing an appropriate strategy and plan of action in reaching a client’s goals through various functions. For example, it is very likely that the client will be billed for legal research, drafting of pleadings, telephone and in person conferences, drafting and reviewing emails, telephone conversations with opposing counsel, preparation of discoverable documents, investigation of facts, preparation for and appearances in court, correspondence with the court, and other tasks necessary to adequately handle the matter in controversy. The attorney’s time involved in out-of-office representation will be measured from the time the attorney leaves the office until the attorney arrives back at the office.

The following fees are examples of expenses that will be deducted from the retainer: court fees, duplication fees, filing fees, facsimile fees, and postage fees.  Larger expenses such as travel expenses, long distance telephone expenses, accountant’s fees, appraiser’s fees, consultant’s fees, other professional fees incurred on the client’s behalf (including specialized or local legal counsel), and other disbursements will be in addition to the retainer amount. Thus, the client will have to bear the cost of those fees separately from the attorney’s retainer amount.

The retainer amount and the process by which the attorney’s firm uses or spends the client retainer amount is normally discussed simultaneously with the explanation and signing of the retaining contract for hire with the attorney or the attorney’s firm.  The contract should explain in detail how the retainer will be used, as well as, when and how the client’s money will be drafted from the retainer account.  Retainers are property of the client and the client’s funds only, not the attorneys. The attorney only receives the amount of the retainer in which the attorney earns by working on the case.  Once the case has been resolved, the attorney should return any remaining retainer funds in the client’s trust account to the client.

Quick Example:

If the retainer is $5,000 and the attorney and her staff expend 5 hours at a rate of $300.00 per hour preparing, conferencing, drafting, and filing the original answer and the counter petition then the client should expect that a total of $1,500.00 of work was performed on the case, thus leaving a total of $3,500.00 left in the clients retainer fund. If filing an original petition for divorce, the client must also consider filing fees at around $400.00 and service fees for the process server of approximately $100.00. Those fees would be subtracted from the retainer amount as well, leaving the client retainer fund with about $3,000.00. It is important for the client to understand that the retainer is an initial deposit and will likely have to be replenished before the suit is resolved.

Divorce For Dads™ - Activities for KidsDivorce for dads™ can be a scary situation given the potential unknown and inexperience with the care of children. Life will change for the parents, as well as for the children. Some divorced fathers are overwhelmed just trying to schedule activities and keeping the kids entertained. Divorce for dads™ can create a tight budget as they have to manage with less income due to the additional expense of spousal maintenance and child support.

If the budget is tight, then the mere idea can be an extra stressor for divorcing or divorced dads. Have no fear, single fathers; you are in luck because Houston has a plethora of activities and things to do with the kids for free or a low cost. Below are just a few examples of things to do with the kids that they will enjoy and you will too, without breaking the bank. Remember, it is not about the amount of money you spend on your children to show them love, but rather the quality time you spend with them.

    1. One of the many bike trails and various activities offered around Houston’s bayous, waterways, and parks (a few listed below)
      • Buffalo Bayou
      • Herman Park
      • Discovery Green
      • Memorial Park, Houston
      • Eleanor Tensely park
      • Market Square
    2. Museums
      • Free admission to the following museums on certain days
        • Buffalo Soldiers National Museum – Thursday 1 pm – 5 pm
        • Houston Museum of Natural Science – Thursday 2 pm – 5 pm
        • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — Thursday 10 am – 9 pm — (Kids 12 & under free every day)
        • Children’s Museum of Houston — Thursday 5 pm – 8 pm; Power Hour: Get $2.00 off on admission every day after 5 p.m. (except on Thursdays)
        • The Health Museum — Thursday 2 pm – 7 pm
        • Holocaust Museum Houston – Thursday 2 pm – 5 pm
        • Houston Museum of African-American Culture — Thursday 6 pm – 8 pm
        • Czech Center Museum Houston – Last Monday each month, noon -4 pm
    3. The YMCA
      • One adult membership (with kids) is $72.00 per month
      • If you are interested in participating in the programs or activities but do not need the full use of the facility, program memberships are available where there is a Join Fee and discounted fee per month (Fees may vary on locations around Houston)
      • Membership for All available if you meet the financial requirements
      • https://search.ymcahouston.org/search/programs/
    4. Movies
    5. Libraries
      • Many of the city libraries offer free summer reading programs
      • This is a great way to keep up their reading skills over the summer months
    6. Water Activities
    7. For little builders
    8. Baseball
      • Sugar Land Skeeters Tickets
      • Discounted Field Box seats at select Skeeters’ games – $8.50 per ticket
      • Value ticket nights include $1 hot dog Wednesdays, family night and Friday night fireworks at the ballpark
      • Houston Astros tickets – http://m.mlb.com/astros/tickets/fan-value/
    9. Houston Zoo
    10. For the Animal Lover
      • Spotting Dolphins from the Galveston Island Ferry
      • It may be a little ways from the city but what a great opportunity to venture out of the City of Houston for the day to watch Dolphins while taking a ride on the Galveston Island Ferry on its way to Port Bolivar Peninsula
      • http://www.galveston.com/galvestonferry/

There will without a doubt that divorce for dads™ will require an adjustment period as you transition to the life of a single parent, however, that does not mean you need to miss out on spending quality time with your children. With these activities and the many other options in and around the City of Houston, a fun time will be had by all!

Child Custody Holiday Schedule

It’s always best when families work out a holiday visitation schedule that works best for them. Any time two parents can not otherwise come to an agreement, the holiday visitation schedule in the Standard Possession Order of Texas takes effect.

On Even-numbered Years:
The possessory conservator gets the kids for kids for Christmas
The managing conservator gets the kids for Thanksgiving and New Years

The custody roles switch for odd-numbered years

§153.314 of the Texas Family Code

Sec. 153.314. The following provisions govern possession of the child for certain specific holidays and supersede conflicting weekend or Thursday periods of possession without regard to the distance the parents reside apart. The possessory conservator and the managing conservator shall have rights of possession of the child as follows:

(1) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in odd-numbered years;

(2) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

(3) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years, beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school before Thanksgiving and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years.

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Mary E. Ramos is a Board Certified Houston Divorce Lawyer and Family Law Attorney

Houston, TX- Oct 2nd, 2017: Ramos Law Group, PLLC, an award-winning family law firm, is pleased to announce the launch of their new and improved website. The Houston-based firm, founded by Board Certified Family Law Attorney Mary E. Ramos, has long been respected in the Texas legal community for their dedication to achieving positive outcomes for their clients. With the launch of their new website, Ramos Law Group anticipates continued growth and exceptional service for the greater Houston area.

The goal of the new website is to provide information about the full scope of our family law services, including uncontested divorce, contested divorce, high net worth divorce, adoption services, and mediation. The website also features an extensive blog which serves as an educational resource to answer some of the more challenging questions related to divorce and family law.

The website also features detailed biographies for Mary E. Ramos and her team of attorneys, including certifications, education, and professional experience. When visiting the new website, prospective clients can learn about the family law services offered, get information about the Ramos Law Group legal team, and schedule a consultation instantly.

Fortunately, the offices of Ramos Law Group were not damaged by Hurricane Harvey. In the days following the storm, they were able to provide room and supplies to members of the Harris County legal community at their offices about 3 miles from the Houston Courthouse.

About Ramos Law Group:

The Ramos Law Group, PLLC is a family law firm serving the region of Houston, Texas. They provide legal services specializing in divorce, mediation, child custody, child support, and adoption cases. The group emphasizes helping clients navigate the challenges important to their parent-child relationship.

Three Ramos Law Group attorneys have been recognized as being Houston’s top lawyers in 2015 through 2017 by H Texas Magazine, including board certified founder Mary E. Ramos. Mary has a passion for improving her family law knowledge through continuing legal education (CLE) and training. On average, she completes between 80 to 100 hours of continuing legal education per year.

The family law experts of the Ramos Law group are committed to reaching the best possible outcomes for their clients and families.

For more information about Ramos Law Group, visit their new website at www.ramosfamilylaw.com.


Press contact info:

Alfredo Ramos
Business Manager

1214 Miramar Street
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 225 6200
press@ramosfamilylaw.com

Houston, TexasIt’s been almost one month to the day that Hurricane Harvey wrecked havoc on the city of Houston and surrounding towns. At the time, no one quite knew what to expect and what the days and months to come would hold. From the first moments, after the storm hit to the moment the rain stopped, the true spirit of Texans did not. Whether it is as a single mom or dad with kids, or as an individual, help of all children is needed and welcomed all across the city. If you, as a parent with kids, are wondering just how you and your kids can help, volunteering with your children is certainly an excellent way to do so. It is not only something that is rewarding but also a great way, as a single mom or dad, to teach responsibility.

A few ways and opportunities to help are below:

1.  Houston Food Bank

Registered volunteers will be needed on an on-going basis. Children as young as age six are welcome for kid-friendly projects. Volunteers ages 16 years and younger must be accompanied by an adult parent/guardian. Closed-toe shoes and sleeved shirts are required.

Donations are also being accepted, and curbside drop-off is now in effect.

Items needed:

  • Canned ready-to-eat items with pull tops: vegetables, fruit
  • Protein in pouches or pull-top cans: tuna, beef stew, chili, canned chicken
  • Peanut butter
  • Snacks: granola bars, breakfast bars, etc.
  • Toiletries
  • Paper goods
  • Diapers
  • Cleaning supplies: mops, mop buckets, brooms, bleach wipes, bleach, garbage bags, bug spray

http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/volunteer/volunteer

2.  Lakewood Church

After the storm, Lakewood Church open its doors to those needing shelter and are still seeking volunteers and collecting diapers, baby formula and baby food and other shelter supplies as well as taking volunteers for clean up’s around the city.

https://www.lakewoodchurch.com/Pages/Hurricane-Relief.aspx?sourcecode=17DRLW

3.  Volunteers with Pets at NRG

As you may or may not know, NRG Center has turned from a shelter for people whose homes flooded to a shelter for abandoned pets from all around the city. Barrio Dogs is looking to recruit volunteers to handle pets that people will be bringing in. They are in need of volunteers and pet items.

The shelter is in need of pet items including:

    • Crates
    • Pet carriers
    • Leashes
    • Dog/cat food
    • Cat litter
    • Towels
    • Poopy pads
    • Water bowls

If you are interested in volunteering at NRG, volunteers can start arriving at NRG Center (not the stadium); please enter via Kirby. Gate 10, Red Lot 2 or 4. At the gate, make sure to state “I am volunteering with Baker Ripley/Neighborhood Centers.”

Text Bo Fraga at 713.446.9365.

4.  Relief List

If you do not have the time to be able to go out and volunteer, but you and your family are still looking for a way to be able to help give back to those who lost everything, Relief List is an excellent way to do so. They have a running list of people all over the city, in various zip codes, in need of specific supplies and items. Relief List also has a link on their website with credible organizations seeking volunteers.

https://www.relieflist.com

Rest assured, as we have seen already, this city will rebuild and with your help would only be that much better.

Featured Image

The difference between a divorce and an annulment in Texas family law lies in the validity of the marriage. A divorce, puts a legal end to a valid marriage. An annulment, legally invalidates a marriage. It treats the marriage as if it never existed, but the petitioner (the person bringing the suit), must be able to prove the facts surrounding the marriage meet very specific statutory grounds.

Herein lies another difference between an annulment vs. a divorce in Texas family law; in a divorce, the parties may plead “no fault” and therefore do not have to prove the grounds of their divorce. This just means if you want an annulment, be prepared to go in front of the Judge with facts demonstrating you meet the statutory requirements.

How Will I Know If I Qualify for an Annulment?

In Texas, an annulment can only be granted if the following statutory grounds are met:

  • Underage
    If the marriage of a person 16 years or older but under 18 occurred without parental consent or court order, the court may grant an annulment. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.102. Unless a court order has been obtained, any marriage to a person under 16 will be declared void by the courts. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.205.
  • Intoxication
    If the petitioner was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and therefore did not have the capacity to consent to marriage, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the parties did not voluntarily cohabitate (live together) after sobering up. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.105. If you moved in together, and tried to make it work, you DO NOT meet the statutory grounds required to grant an annulment.
  • Impotency
    If at the time of the marriage, either party was permanently impotent, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the petitioner did not know of the impotency at the time of the marriage AND did not voluntarily cohabitate since learning of the impotency. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.106.
  • Fraud, Duress, or Force
    If fraud, duress, or force was used to induce the petitioner into marriage, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the petitioner did not voluntarily cohabitate with the other party since learning of the fraud or since being released from the duress or force. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.107.
  • Mental Incapacity
    The requirements for an annulment granted on the basis of mental incapacity depend on who is bringing the suit. If the petitioner is the person with the incapacity (or their representative), then the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF at the time of the marriage they did not have had the mental capacity to consent to the marriage or to understand the nature of the ceremony because of mental disease or defect AND they did not voluntarily cohabitate with the other party during a period when they possessed the capacity to recognize the marriage relationship.
    If the petitioner is the party without the mental incapacity, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the petitioner did not know of the mental disease or defect at the time of the marriage AND has not voluntarily cohabitated with the other party since the date they discovered (or reasonably should have discovered) the mental disease or defect. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.108.
  • Concealed Divorce
    If at the time of the marriage, the petitioner did not know that the other party was divorced from a third party within the 30 days prior to the ceremony, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the petitioner did not voluntarily cohabitate with the other party since learning of the fact of divorce. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.109.
  • Marriage Less Than 72 Hours After Issuance of License
    If the marriage ceremony took place within the 72 hours following issuance of the marriage license, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the annulment is sought within the 30 days following the ceremony. This is an important distinction between an annulment vs. a divorce in Texas. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.110.
  • Consanguinity
    If the parties are related too closely by blood, as close as or closer than cousins, the marriage will be declared void by the court. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.201.
  • Preexisting Marriage
    If either party is married at the time of the marriage ceremony, the later marriage will be declared void by the courts. However, if after the earlier marriage is dissolved, the parties continue to live together AND represent to others that they are married, the marriage can become valid. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.202.

These are the general grounds that will support an annulment in Texas. Anyone seeking more information about an annulment vs. a divorce in Texas should consider seeking the advice of an experienced family law attorney to see whether their individual circumstances meet the criteria, and what the benefits of seeking such an option might be.

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