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Jack Mccall Riley

Jack Riley’s Answers

3 total

  • A Married man with two children fathered a child outside his marriage. Can he divorce to lower child support?

    My daughter had a child with a married man (not knowing he was married) 4 years ago. Now that she recently filed a paternity and child support case against him, He has filed for divorce from his wife that he has two children with just to reduce th...

    Jack’s Answer

    Short answer: No. Your question seems to be based on a misunderstanding of Texas law. It is true that if this father has two other children to support, his child support obligation to your grandson would be decreased to 16% of his net income (from what would ordinarily be 20% of his net income if he did not have these two other children to support). However, the fact that the father has two other children to support holds true whether he is divorced from their mother or not. In other words, the Texas court will customarily apply the lower 16% guideline regardless of the father's marital status. This is because he has a legal duty to support these other two children whether he is married to their mother or not -- either way, these two children are costing this father money each month to support them, and the Texas court is going to take that into account by using the 16% figure instead of the 20% figure. So, the notion that the amount of child support to your grandson will change by virtue of the father's divorce is simply incorrect. Either this father is simply mistaken about the effect of his action to divorce his wife, or he must be divorcing for other reasons (for example, perhaps his wife just learned that he fathered a child with another woman during the marriage). If she can afford it, your daughter should have an attorney.

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  • My sons grandfather keeps callin me wanting to see my son but he doesn like the fact its not over night. does he have any right

    my sons father is in prison and is doing a life sentence..i have sole managing conserv. of my son ex is only possesion cons. and he has to see my son through a safe program after he has completed his parenting class which of course he hasnt ...

    Jack’s Answer

    Because you are writing from Houston and are using terms we use in Texas family law, then in answering your question I am going to assume your court order is a Texas court order. If not, please ignore this advice. Any readers who are not dealing with a court order from Texas should NOT necessarily apply this Texas-specific advice to their own situation.

    It seems to me there are really three separate questions here:
    1) Do the paternal grandparents have any legal right to see your son?
    2) Whether they have any legal right or not, should you allow the paternal grandparents access to your son?
    3) Should your son be visiting his father in prison?

    The second and third questions are moral and psychological questions, not really legal questions. They are serious questions and the answer to questions 2 & 3 depends greatly on such factors you allude to, such as what kind of relationship your son has had with his father or his paternal grandparents, whether your son wants to see them, what psychological ramifications seeing his father (or not seeing him) may have on your son, whether these people are a good or bad influence on your son (or maybe good and bad), and many other factors. As to question #2, it seems like you are not opposed to the paternal grandparents having access to your son, provided it is not overnight, which does not seem so unreasonable, though whether your son is with them during the day or at night seems less important than this question: what amount of time with the paternal grandparents is your son comfortable with?

    The first question (what legal rights do the paternal grandparents have?) is one I am better equipped to answer for you. Unless the grandparents are awarded rights of possession (visitation) in the court order, then currently they have no more legal right to possession of your son than I have (which is to say, none). However, the question then becomes: can the paternal grandparents sue to establish visitation rights for themselves? Well, they can try, but that does not answer the question of whether they will be awarded such rights, as that is up to a court. There are many hurdles in front of the paternal grandparents if they want to establish court-ordered rights of visitation. They can jump one of the hurdles by virtue of the fact that their son, the father, is in prison (that is one of the situations that Texas permits such suits). But that is not enough: the court assumes that you act in the best interest of your child in your decision whether to grant them visitation, and the paternal grandparents have to overcome that assumption by showing the court that denial of access to the child would "significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional well-being." A court will not lightly interfere with your child-rearing decisions simply because a "better decision" may have been made. But you would defend the case partly on the grounds that you did not deny them access to the child, just overnight access, so you would argue there was no denial of access.

    Many grandparents tell me they feel forced into these suits for access to their grandchildren, because if they were allowed to see their grandchildren they would never have filed. Conversely, many parents tell me they would have let the grandparents see their grandchildren if the grandparents had not filed suit against them. So really what is required is better communication between the parents and the grandparents. It should not be a power struggle between the two: it should be a decision about what's right for the child.

    You may wish to consult an attorney, preferably one board certified in family law in Texas. But, it is not crucial that you have an attorney unless and until you are sued or receive a letter threatening suit. Best of luck, and perhaps you should consider having a counselor talk to your son about his relationship with his father or paternal grandparents. But then, you know the situation better than I.

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  • How would one go about becoming a family lawyer...?

    Becoming a lawyer

    Jack’s Answer

    Although I will answer your question of how to become a family law attorney (below), the real question you should be asking yourself is: SHOULD I really go into family law? Family law means commitment. Of course, so does insanity. In family law, you do very important work, work that affects childrens' lives, and really the lives of generations of children. Sometimes you find yourself protecting a child from physical abuse or dividing up millions of dollars in assets. Other times, however, you find yourself arguing in court over who should be awarded the Beanie-Baby collection or the barbecue pit. You see people at the absolute worst point in their lives, and you come away amazed at how good some people can be and how miserably petty others can be. Before you decide to commit to being a family law attorney, try to get a temporary job at a law office doing secretarial work for a family law attorney - it just may cure you. But if you are still committed, see below for information on how to become a family law attorney.

    The best way to become a family law attorney is to go to college, and study anything that can help you become a better writer, speaker, or counselor. Accounting is helpful also. You will need to prepare for and study for the LSAT, the law school entrance exam. Ideally, go to law school in the state in which you intend to practice law. So if you want to live in Texas, go to law school in Texas. In law school, focus on family law, civil procedure, criminal law (it comes into play in divorce), and evidence. Learn the rules of evidence like the back of your hand, and you will never regret it. Then, during your summers in law school, intern with the best family law firm you can find (work for free if you have to, just for the experience). Once you graduate from law school and pass the bar, try to get a job as an associate attorney with an experienced family law attorney that you genuinely like. Let that person be your mentor, and learn from his or her experience (and from the mistakes). At some point, you should seriously consider opening your own law office, and then you will work harder than you ever have in your life. Then, my advice is to take care of yourself physically, balance work and family, and squeeze in vacations on long weekends, because you will not have time to take two weeks off, and probably not even a week. Best of luck to you!

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