Sunday, February 1, 2015

An Expensive Way to Save Money

When the Texas Attorney General's Office gets involved in a family law matter, you better be prepared to defend yourself.  The AG will not represent mother or father officially, but can tilt the scales in favor or one side or the other.  When the AG is involved, you need your own attorney.

The Attorney General is required to act in some circumstances to collect child support, establish parent-child relationships (paternity), make sure medical support is provided for children, re-coup state money that may have been paid to a parent or child and modify child support orders, among other things.  The AG acts under federal and state law.

Important rights and obligations are affected by actions in court initiated by the AG.  Parental rights are assigned to parents, including custody, the powers to make educational, medical and residence decisions, and possession  (visitation) schedules.  Retroactive and future child support are ordered.  Judgments are granted for past-due child support.

Parents and alleged parents sometimes receive various notices from the AG about some of the issues mentioned above.   You may be required to appear in court or you may be notified to come to the AG's office to negotiate an agreement for paternity and support, or just support.

If you receive such a notice from the AG, don't ignore it.  You need to immediately hire an attorney and prepare for court or negotiations.

You are mistaken if you think the AG will spend a lot of time with you, listen impartially to your side of the story or take time to develop a special possession schedule for your special circumstances.  The Attorney General has thousands of cases and is understaffed.  They will efficiently deal with your case like they deal with thousands of others, unless you have an attorney present to help you.

If you think you can't afford to pay an attorney, shop around for a less expensive one.

Without an attorney, you can end up with the wrong amount of child support, a terrible visitation schedule and without the rights and powers of a parent that are important to you.  You may have lost custody without realizing what you were agreeing to.

Without an attorney, there is a lot of pressure to settle and sign.  That same pressure is there when you have an attorney, but then you have someone who can slow things down and do it right.

Don't think you get a "do-over".  If you make a deal with the AG and it's written up as a court order, it will be quickly signed by a Judge and it will be very hard and EXPENSIVE to undo, if you are even able to do so.

Bottom line:  You need to spend a little money to protect yourself and your children.  It will save you money in the long run!