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Author: Tessmer Law Firm

Adoption and legal guardianship are not the same.   There is a big difference between the two. Legal guardianship gives one the duty to act as a temporary parent to a child. Adoption permanently terminates the rights of a child’s biological parent. It is important to understand the differences if you are considering guardianship or adoption for your family.   Becoming a child’s legal guardian gives you the rights of a parent. But, it does not end the biological parents’ rights. The legal guardian has all the responsibilities of a parent. Providing for the child financially, providing basic necessities and ensuring the child is safe,...

Years ago, nearly all adoptions were closed.   A closed adoption means there is no contact between the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child after the adoption has taken place.   Today, adoptions are open in a variety of ways. You may think that an open adoption means the birth parents keep visitation and access to the child. That is an example of an open adoption, but not the only one. There is no real definition of what an open adoption is.   In general, open adoption means that the birth and adoptive parents share some identifiable information or contact. For example, they may...

Adoption is "a process whereby a person assumes the parenting for another and in so doing transfers all rights and responsibilities from the biological parent or parents." In the State of Texas, adoption is regulated under Family Code Section 162. Adoptions are typically handled by the District Courts. But, a juvenile or other court that has jurisdiction over a suit affecting the parent-child relationship can also handle the case. People adopt for a wide variety of reasons, infertility being the most common. About half of adoptions in the U.S. are between relatives. One example is a "step-parent adoption" where the new spouse of...

Most states have laws about legal separation, but Texas does not.   Couples in Texas that want to live apart have only one legal remedy – divorce.   If you want to split up and live apart, but not divorce, you can voluntarily decide on a parenting plan for your children. A Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) can be filed that outlines the rights and responsibilities of each parent. A SAPCR is not a Google-and-do-it-yourself document. You will want an experienced family law attorney to draft it for you.   But that only addresses legal issues with your children. What do you do to protect...

Raising kids is expensive.   School, sports and extracurricular activities, tutoring, medical insurance, braces, cell phones, computers, clothes, shoes…. The list goes on and on. It is hard enough in a two-parent household. It gets harder when parents divorce.   Child support is money paid by one parent to the other to help cover the child’s basic needs. Usually, the non-custodial parent pays the parent that the child lives with. There are “guidelines” in the state of Texas that help determine how much a parent pays (see our previous article about Child Support in Texas). Many parents find that the guideline amount is not enough...

In the state of Texas, child support and visitation do not go hand-in-hand. A parent cannot withhold visitation due to non-payment of child support. Likewise, a parent cannot withhold child support to force visitation.   Child support is normally paid to the custodial parent (the parent the child lives with) by the non-custodial parent (the parent the child does not live with). The non-custodial parent gets visitation per a court ordered schedule. The custodial parent may want to withhold visitation to try and force the other to pay child support.  Trust us, a judge will not appreciate this. In fact, it could result in...

Divorce Mediation is an important part of the divorce process in Texas. Divorce mediation involves a neutral party (the Mediator) working with a divorcing couple to help them reach an agreement on the issues in their case. The issues can be about child support, custody and visitation, dividing property and spousal support.  A Mediator is not a judge.  He or she helps the couple reach a voluntary agreement.   Many Texas counties require that a divorcing couple attempt Mediation before going to a final hearing, Bexar County included.     Mediation has its benefits. Some include:   It has a high success rate in resolving issues, especially when...

There is one key principle to remember when splitting debts in a divorce.   Any agreement reached involving the assignment of a debt is binding between the spouses. Generally, the agreement does not extend to creditors. A proper divorce settlement will take several factors into account, such as:   when the debt was acquired; the names on the debt account; and how ownership of the asset associated with the debt – for example, a vehicle – is structured.   Often, the credit of both spouses is used to get a loan. A creditor has the right to pursue either spouse for the debt. It does...

Community property does not just include things like real estate, household belongings, and vehicles.  It also includes intangible property such as income, dividends, benefits and debts.  All community property must be divided when the marriage ends, and all of the debts as well.   In some cases, when a court awards a portion of one spouse’s retirement benefits to the other spouse, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be prepared to be sent to the employer, who will be ordered to distribute benefits to each spouse in accordance with the court’s order.  A QDRO is not a “google and do-it-yourself” document. ...

Heather Tessmer, owner of Tessmer Law Firm, P.L.L.C., was recently chosen for the following honors:   2016 Top Lawyer - S.A. Scene Magazine 2016 Top Personal Injury Lawyer - S.A. Scene Magazine NAWBO San Antonio Board of Directors St. Mary's Law Alumni Association Board of Directors   Way to go Heather! Keep up the good work in our community!...