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Christopher Jay Harding

Christopher Harding’s Answers

1,153 total

  • Where can I find the forms for a Petition to Terminate parental rights?

    My boyfriend and a random girl had a son 7 years ago and he and she both agree to have him sign his rights over. Where can I find a form for TX to file ourselves? An attorney would be way to much for us right now and we want to have her sign them ...

    Christopher’s Answer

    You can find forms at a law library. SMU has one, as does the George L. Allen Sr. Courts Building. You are looking for a "Waiver of Parental Rights" or perhaps a "Termination of Parental Rights."

    That doesn't solve the real problem for him. A court is unlikely to accept his waiver/termination without additional facts as stated in one of the above answers, or unless another person is stepping in to adopt. That is a whole new process.

    At that point, you really will need an attorney, unfortunately. There are those that work on payment plans, or you can try Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas -

    Good luck.

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  • Being sued in federal court over I 864 affidavit of support

    My immigrant spouse and I a divorceing and she says unless I give her spousal support now in state settlement she will sue me in federal court. I am wondering I think this is total blackmail for a settlement from me, we have only been married one...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Divorce cases in Dallas are starting to move more quickly, which just means that you can get a final trial in typically 6 - 9 months, barring extensive discovery and if you push for it.

    Sit down with an attorney and discuss the situation. You may likely see allegations of family violence next, as that is one way divorcing spouses that are immigrants can maintain their status in the US. Should this occur, DO NOT SIT BY IDLY. Fight it and fight it hard. Findings of family violence can mess up your life - yes, that is legal talk. But really, it sticks with you and labels you.

    If you can come to an agreement on the support, it might be cheaper (before lawyers get involved) to enter into an Agreed Decree of Divorce.

    Try sitting down with a lawyer and letting them review the situation. Many offer free initial consultations.

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  • Does a Judgement on Sister State Judgement Modifying Order For Visitation, Child Support and Attorney Fees also Include Custody?

    My son was given custody in Texas to my ex-mother in law in 04. I was served papers and I called to ask her what they were about and she said I need not attend it was a formality so she could take him to a doctor or daycare, etc and I trusted her!...

    Christopher’s Answer

    First, changing custody is not easy. It can be done, but the non-possessory parent has the burden to prove the change is in 'the best interest of the child,' and at least one court in this case has determined that your ex-mother in law should maintain custody.

    Second, it is really hard to tell what your options might be without reviewing the papers in person and sitting down with a lawyer so that they can ask the pertinent questions and get a feel for the case.

    Third, until the Court is formally changed, it remains the court of continuing exclusive jurisdiction. This would just be a check-the-box thing since your son has been in California for the past six months (really years). Your ex mother-in-law would file to transfer the case and I don't see a Texas Court refusing that request at this time. Texas would maintain the ability to enter temporary orders pending the transfer, but custody almost never flips at the temporary orders stage.

    All in all, sit down with a Texas family lawyer to review the paperwork and facts, then you will likely be hiring a California attorney.

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  • What rights do I have to see "my children" once I divorce if my husband takes them away?

    I met and married my husband in 2006. At the time, he had two children ages 2 and 3. He claims their biological mother, whom he was not married to, abandoned them when they were 10 and 18 months old. I have wanted to adopt the kids from the beg...

    Christopher’s Answer

    You may have a hard time adopting the children since both parents are still living and neither has terminated their rights to the children. In addition, you would need to serve the mother somehow to have her involved in the process, and with birth mother being in Kenya, that is a problem.

    Another interesting facet is that to even apply for conservatorship (not quite being a parent, but many of the same rights and duties) you will need to serve bio mother.

    The divorce itself should not involve the children since they are not your biological children, and not "children of the marriage." While his infidelity may play a part in the divorce and division of assets, it does not likely play a part in child-related issues.

    Getting someone served in another country is hard, especially if that county is not part of the Hague Convention. I do not know if Kenya is or isn't. You are going to need to flesh this case out with a lawyer and understand what you are trying to do, with regard to the children, is not going to be cheap, but it will be worth it.

    Good luck.

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  • Can i still get my divorce without my husband signing. I havent had contact over 12yrs. has no clue where he is or his family

    i already went online and need to take it the divorce paper to the couts to file but i havent seen my husband over 12yrs and have no contact information of his whereabout or his family

    Christopher’s Answer

    The Court (and Texas law) requires you to make a good faith effort to find him. After you can prove that, the Court may allow service by an alternative method, such as publication or through a family member. Recently, an appellate decision showed disfavor on the publication avenue, so it will be interesting to see how that would work now. Occasionally, you can pay a private party to find someone for a couple hundred dollars, and they can come up with a list of possible hits.

    It is certainly possible to get the divorce completed, it will just take some time and effort.

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  • I filed for divorce, and my husband filed a waiver of service. Do I still need him to read and sign the divorce decree?

    So basically, I filed for divorce, he filed a waiver of service. On it, it says by signing, you give up all legal rights to this case. So, can I go ahead and finish my divorce paperwork and schedule my hearing? Or, does my husband have to sign...

    Christopher’s Answer

    The answer depends on the language in the waiver. You really need to take the waiver to a lawyer, who can read it very closely and make sure that no further notice would be required. If that is the case, then you no longer need his signature. In Dallas, each court differs on it's policies for entering a final decree, so you need to call the specific court and ask about their policy for the "prove-up hearing," just a quick hearing to finalize your divorce.

    If the language does not clearly give up the notice requirement for your husband, you will need to get his signature or go through a contested divorce process.

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  • What are my chances of getting full custody? When is it best for me to file for child support/custody?

    I filed a police report about 6 mo. ago he was charged with class c assualt. He just recently got in trouble again being charged with public intoxication, failure to identify himself to a cop, and disorderly contact (fighting in public) he is figh...

    Christopher’s Answer

    If the assault was a family violence incident, you have a good chance to get Sole Managing Conservatorship. Otherwise, Joint Managing Conservatorship is the norm and you would have the burden to prove why that should not be put in place. Fortunately, SMC and JMC are separate from the possession/visitation schedule.

    You need to have a good basis to overcome the presumption that the Standard Possession Order should apply - that means the child could be put in danger due to neglect, violent outbursts, or drug use around the child. You may have the allegations, the next step would be to prove those allegations through drug tests or proper presentation of the criminal cases/outcomes.

    Child Support - he is going to have to pay child support. If he quits his job and gets a lower paying job, you can argue he did that just to spite you, and that he is intentionally unemployed. If the court agrees, the court will put in child support based on the higher-paying job. He would get no benefit at that point.

    Dallas Courts tend to disfavor supervised visitation, and certainly wouldn't have you being the supervisor if the court granted supervised access. You need to have a list of people you and he can both agree on for supervision - his family, joint friends, someone - and confirm that the person(s) is willing to supervise. This is going to severely limit his time with his son, by the way, just because of the logistics of supervision.

    Yes, your son should have a father figure. However, that father figure does need to be someone the child can emulate.

    By the way, Texas does not have 'full custody.' I believe you mean sole managing conservatorship, the term used above. Again, that regards rights and duties and is different than the visitation schedule issue.

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  • How difficult will it be to get custody of my daughter? I live in WA and she is in TX with her mother. So far she has no lawyer.

    My wife was suppose to move to WA a month ago and suddenly filed for a divorce. She has restricted my contact with my daughter who is six years old. I will call and she will only answer sometimes. I suspect that she has a new boyfriend and has sub...

    Christopher’s Answer

    You definitely need to move forward with the temporary orders hearing to get orders in place. A fight for primary custody is difficult and expensive, but the likelihood of success cannot be even guessed at with the limited information I have here - you need to talk to your current attorney about that or have a consult with another.

    Once a case is filed and paperwork served, Dallas County requires children to stay in Texas unless there is an agreement otherwise, so she would be violating the standing orders should she go to WA.

    Also, there is passport language available to deal with the abduction issue, and you can get specific orders disallowing international travel if needed.

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  • Should I file for custody modification

    My ex wife and I have joint custody of our 8 year old daughter. She is the primary resident and our orders state 50/50 physical custody. For the last 3 years I have been the primary caregiver and have had physical custody 4 out of the 5 weekdays...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Yes - and you should. You are bearing the majority of the financial burden and she should be helping, either informally, or better yet, by Court-ordered Child Support.

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  • I work ft, but I can't afford a divorce attorney and I am not eligible for legal aid. I got children and need child support.

    Hi I got separated from my husband a yr ago. I left the house, I was the one that left because he cheated on me... We have kids and he is not paying child support. I have try to go back to my house many times but he just keeps kicking me out and c...

    Christopher’s Answer

    For the child support, contact the Office of the Attorney General. The link is below. They move more slowly than a private attorney, but they are free. Please note that as soon as you try to get child support orders in place, he will likely start to fight for custody. At that point, you really need an attorney. The OAG does not do conservatorship, only child support.

    I don't have enough information to answer anything about the house. If it is leased, and you have your name on the lease, you can have access. You may have to go to the leasing office or manager, or even the cops, but you will get access, if only until he changes the locks again. Get your stuff, get your kid's stuff, and go ahead and get out.

    If it is a home you own with him, almost the same as above, except you also need to get it sold through a divorce process. A lease runs out, so eventually the situation cures itself. If you own it, you need to clean it up by getting your name off the property records. Depending on how much equity is in the house, there are a couple of options I won't go into here - too involved.

    More likely, at this point your name is not on the lease, at which point you cannot enter the home without his permission. You would need to file for divorce and take care of the property issue through the case, or perhaps file theft/conversion of property charges, which may or may not work. The State normally will not prosecute these types of situations, and refer you to family court.

    As for a good attorney with low fees, those do not always go together. Why don't you try the Dallas Bar Associations referral program? I know you say you cannot get legal aid, but this is a slightly different program. Link below.

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