Is it possible to get free or low cost legal representation in a child custody case?

Asked about 3 years ago - Houston, TX

My daughter lived with me for five years, since she was a baby. After some time, my daughter started to stay with her Dad over the weekends, then it turned into weekdays because he was not working and I was and my schedule did not allow me to pick her up from school so, the help came in handy. Before I knew it, it was summer and it was my turn to have her over with me. One day during the summer he came the excuse of taking her out. I did not want her to go but since I have a legal situation he threatened to call the police, so I let him take her. Its been two years and he now has her permanently and I could not see her until just recently. He took custody of her. Now he is demanding child support when he never gave me a dime but claimed her as dependent in his tax return every year.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Thomas James Daley

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    Answered . You are on the right track in the sense that you absolutely must get some orders in place. If he is taking good care of her, on the basis or her having been with her father for 2 years, particularly as the end result of voluntary relinquishment of actual possession of her, he is likely to be named the primary conservator in a contested hearing and, if so, you would have to pay him child support based on your income.

    No matter what outcome you get, you would have a court-enforceable right to spend time with your child.

    You can contact the Houston Bar Association for free legal help or you can contact the Texas Legal Services Center (www.tlsc.org) for a referal to an attorney who will take your case at a substantial discount.

    God luck!!

  2. Christopher Jay Harding

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . The Houston Bar Association might be able to help you find a low-cost provider if you contact them.

    If this does turn into a custody battle, it is likely that he ends up with primary custody, as he has taken care of the child for 2 years, and then you would be obligated to pay child support. Another option is to wait until he files... unfortunately, he can probably get the OAG's office involved to provide free help in setting up child support...

    This answer is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice... more
  3. Dana Joseph Stewart

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . Mr. Daley is right - depending on the facts, you might have opened yourself up to be named as the non-custodial parent. However, that doesn't mean you have no hope. You need to speak with an attorney asap - the longer you allow him to have primary possession, the greater the possiblity that you will end up as the non-custodial parent. And even if the does name your ex as the custodial parent, you still want in order in place that details your legal rights and duties. Best of luck.

    This answer is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice... more

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