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Old 02-02-2009, 12:31 PM   #1
momHIbaby
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I am an unmarried mother to a precious 18 month old boy, Braden, and we live in Dallas. He was born with profound hearing loss, vestibular and sensory issues, developmental delays, and exotropia of the eyes. Braden has had 8 surgeries this past year in an attempt to restore his hearing/vision and to address numerous surgical complications along the way. His father and I were never married, however, I've kept him involved and attempted to salvage the relationship throughout Braden's life. These attempts have failed and separation is eminent. His father has threatened to push for joint custody with visitation in his own home. I'm fearful for my son's wellbeing, if this were to take place. Braden is in therapy 4x a week and requires consistent routine in a stable environment with continued therapy all day long. His learning to hear/speak with cochlear implants is greatly dependent on routine and therapy. My doors are open for his father to come anytime, but I'm adamently against his father taking Braden away from his home environment. Does anyone know if the legal system considers special needs in this type of custody situation?
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Old 02-02-2009, 11:18 PM   #2
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Emphatically yes. No matter what jurisdiction you will be in, the judge is going to weigh the best interests of the child. Your attorney should request reports from the Doctor's on what is best for his therapy and so on. Once the Dr's speak as an "expert" the court is very unlikely to go against that.....

Try this link: http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/c...exasCusSup.htm

Normally I would not recommend an about.com for legal, but it is quoting texas law/statutes concisely for your purposes.

Here is the deal for you: Joint custody means you have to agree on medical treatments. Sole custody, means which every parent has sole custody is responsible for medical decisions, religious matters, and so on....

Please consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction.

One other thing: request from the court that your child is appointed an attorney. This attorney would focus squarely on the child, take in all the doctor's information, and then advocate for his best interest.

Good luck.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:48 AM   #3
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Thank you so much for the suggestions and link to further information. I am compiling letters from his therapists/doctors now. Another factor that may play into all of this is that the baby's father is Canadian and his work visa expires on February 24th. He is a business owner and enrolled in community college (doesn't attend) as a means to apply for a student visa. It seems as though he's walking a thin line as a non-resident. I wonder if or to what extent, immigration status affects custody rights when we were never married? Please chime in if you have any knowledge of this. Thanks again for all of your support!!!!
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Old 02-03-2009, 10:03 AM   #4
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That is a great question and one that I can't point you to an answer for. The reason? This is an emerging part of the law because we are now starting to really face these types of cases.

What it does translate to you is that joint custody would be harder to award without true citizen status. But immigration services could decide to allow him to stay because otherwise you may not get financial support for him......Also immigration is a federal court issue and federal courts rarely get involved with state court situations.

I know that does not help, but it is very relevant information.

Just one more reason I would get an attorney. If you do not have one, make sure you find a firm that specializes in family law and has people who practice immigration law [I can't imagine that will be a problem in Texas].
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:20 PM   #5
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momHIbaby,

If you no longer reside together, have you looked into temporary visitation orders? If you filed for child support, there is probably an attached order defining your visitation rights of both parents.

Personally, while the father is still in the state, I would establish paternity before he disappears and see that child support and medical support is also established (unless you don't mind that he disappears).

You can look for info on the AOG's website to get a general idea about the position the state takes regarding child support and visitation.
http://www.oag.state.tx.us/cs/about/index.shtml

As far a custody, I haven't heard Texas to be a shared parenting state.

Also try: www.txaccess.org This site offers free legal information and assistance related to vistation, child custody, paternity, and child support with attorneys familar with TX laws.

Best wishes to you and your child.
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Old 02-04-2009, 09:25 AM   #6
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Thank you for the suggested web sites. We do not have any formal agreement on visitation or child support at this time. One attorney asked me to wait until he files first, so I'm just getting things in order now. I will try to get some further answers from the txaccess hotline as well. Tanks so much!!!!
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Old 02-04-2009, 10:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by momHIbaby:
One attorney asked me to wait until he files first, so I'm just getting things in order now.
I would seriously question this advice.....And ask another attorney. There are alot of reasons tactically to file first. I am not so sure this was the best advice. Did you ask multiple ones? And what did the others say?
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Old 02-04-2009, 04:12 PM   #8
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I agree with Lisa, especially if you do not have support ordered. The support is granted fromt he day you file.
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