Adoptions Attorney Leslie Barrows
The Barrows Firm Sponsors Komen Greater Fort Worth Breast Cancer Fundraiser 
 

FORT WORTH – Sept. 27, 2016 –The Barrows Firm, P.C. in Fort Worth, Texas, is a contributing sponsor of Kick Up Your Heels for the Cure, benefiting Susan G. Komen Greater Fort Worth.

The Barrows Firm is helping increase awareness about breast cancer and research for cures, by supporting the upcoming fundraising event, Kick Up Your Heels for the Cure, benefiting the Susan G. Komen Greater Fort Worth organization.

Komen Greater Fort Worth has invested $23 million in community breast health programs in four counties and has helped contribute to more than $800 million invested globally in research. The $1,500 donation by The Barrows Firm supports Komen Greater Fort Worth in their mission to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering others, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find cures.

Founder of The Barrows Firm, Attorney Leslie Barrows stated, “The Susan G. Komen Greater Fort Worth is hardworking organization and they do a great job raising awareness about breast cancer,” Barrows said. “Brest cancer has affected so many women and men in our community. I believe that we need to support research to find a cure for breast cancer.”

This year’s Kick Up Your Heels for the Cure is an “evening under the stars” theme featuring dinner by Capital Grille, Railhead Smokehouse and entertainment by Green River Ordinance. The event takes place Sept. 20, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at the Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork in Fort Worth, Texas.

# # #

About The Barrows Firm

The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center. If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and on Avvo.com.

PODCAST: Texas AFCC and Conflict Resolution in Family Law with Attorney Leslie Barrows 
 

The Barrows Firm Law Review is a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas family, criminal, juvenile, probate and estate planning law and events. Attorney Leslie Barrows is our featured guest today as she shares insight and information about the Texas Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts (AFCC) and the use of alternative dispute resolution in family law matters.

Texas AFCC and Conflict Resolution in Family Law with Attorney Leslie Barrows

  • What is the purpose of the Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts?
  • How can attorneys use alternative dispute resolution in traditional litigation matters?
  • What flexibility do people and their lawyers have in creative conflict resolution?
  • Why does the Texas Chapter of the AFCC include multidisciplinary professionals?
  • What are some highlights of the 2016 Statewide Conference of Texas AFCC in Fort Worth this November 2-4?

Leslie Barrows is the principal founder of The Barrows Firm in Fort Worth, Texas. In her firm’s main practice areas of family law, criminal defense and juvenile law, Leslie is consistently challenged with dynamic cases and clients. When winning is what matters, many in the Fort Worth area go to The Barrows Firm based on their reputation an winning track record over the past decade. Leslie Barrows earned her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University and she earned her law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. She is a member of numerous organizations primarily focused in Tarrant County.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

Should “Cyberbullying” be a crime in Texas? 
 

 

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. Since its adoption on December 15, 1791, legal opinions interpreting the First Amendment identify freedom of speech in several forms in addition to spoken words. From speaking, to writing to the message on an article of clothing, there are many forms of protected speech.

As well as there are many forms of free speech, there are exceptions to the prohibition against free speech. Yelling “Fire” in a public place, inciting a riot, making false statements of fact, obscenity, fighting words and offensive speech in certain contexts have historically been held as speech not protected by the First Amendment. In fact, there are times in U.S. history, particularly following World War I, when speech critical of the U.S. government and speech aligned with enemy governments and groups was certainly not protected speech.

In current times and with the rise of technology, millions of Texans use social media and text messaging to communicate and express themselves. While many proclaim, “I’ll say what I want, and it’s my First Amendment right,” others disagree and want new laws limiting free speech in the context of “Cyberbullying.”

Texas Senator, Jose Menendez[i], wants a law protecting against online bullying, a law that could limit First Amendment rights to free speech.

The proposed legislation is called “David’s Law,” named after a 16-year-old boy who committed suicide earlier this year. David was bullied online. While many adults grew up learning the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” many children today were raised in a climate of “political correctness” where words hurt more than ever.

The technology available to bullies today is notably compelling compared to that in past generations. Where bulling used to be more of a one-on-one or small group experience, today the bully can take pictures, record videos, make memes and otherwise launch a media attack on another child. Imagine how difficult this is for adults in politics, now consider the opportunity for a child to respond and say that “words don’t hurt.”

The scope of Senator Menendez’ bill is limited to the acts of electronic harassing or bullying anyone under the age of 18 through text messages, social media, websites or apps. A violation of the law would be a misdemeanor.

Balancing protection of students with free speech requires we remember, these are kids.

Students learning civics in school understand they have rights. What they do not necessarily understand is the notion that while they have rights, they have a children’s version and do not have a full set of rights until they reach adulthood.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the boundaries of free speech and similarly to the exception in which you may not yell “fire” in a crowded theater, and you cannot make threats against another person’s life and defended it as free speech, maybe engaging in cyberbullying against a minor should also be an exception to the right of free speech. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center[ii], 17 states in the U.S. have made cyberbullying a crime, not protected by the First Amendment.

Will Cyberbullying laws stand up to constitutional scrutiny and slippery slope challenges?

While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on cases involving free speech and conduct giving rise to the finding of an exception to the right of free speech, the issue of cyberbullying has not been addressed by the high court.

A challenge may be in defining exactly what speech and conduct gives rise to cyberbullying and how it is defined as a crime. This is similar to obscenity laws and the challenge in determining what is obscene based on community standards versus what some may say is art or free speech.

Additional questions are those of precedent. If the U.S. Supreme Court makes cyberbullying a crime, how expansive will the range of conduct be which gives rise to a criminal charge? Will offended adults in the workplace seek similar protections? Will there be time, place and manner restrictions on cyberbullying?

So long as communication technologies continue progressing, there will be challenges for parents, teachers and children with competing ideas, values and cultures. As legislation affecting Texas families is debated, The Barrows Firm will share available information and ask the questions to which we may be far from answers.

The Barrows Firm shares important information and resources about criminal and juvenile law. If you need assistance with a matter involving criminal defense or juvenile law, The Barrows Firm can help answer your questions.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

[i] Senator Jose Menendez serves Texas Senate District 26, located in Bexar County.

[ii] Cyberbullying Research Center, search: “Laws”

Becoming a foster parent and adopting children who need a forever loving home 
 

There are many young children in Texas who are waiting to be adopted, and most of them are in the foster care system. In years past, movies and television programs often depicted youngsters living in group orphanage homes. In reality, most children are placed with foster parents when they are no longer in the care and custody of their natural parents. One reason children are removed from birth parents is the presence of drugs or alcohol at birth, at which time the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) may remove the child, and place them in foster care. Domestic violence and other criminal matters can lead to children being removed from a birth parent and placed in foster care. While some children remain for an extended time with foster parents, the arrangement is not permanent, unless the foster parent chooses to adopt the child.

People who know they want to adopt, may find out becoming a foster parent is a great first step.

In Texas, the foster parent program is a good starting point for people who want to adopt a child. There are many benefits to becoming a foster parent. Especially if you have not had children before, becoming a foster parent can help you learn more about your parenting style and how to adapt to life with children before you make a forever commitment to adopt a child.

The first step in becoming a foster parent in Texas is to attend an informational meeting where you learn the requirements of being a foster or adoptive parent. Generally, you must be at least 21 years old, financially stable and a responsible mature adult.

Extensive training and education helps prepare people to become foster parents.[i]

After the informational meeting and application process with DFPS, if you are selected to proceed in the process you will be invited to meet with DFPS staff to talk about becoming a foster parent. Next you will attend a training course through DFPS as well as completing the Parent Resource Information Development Education (PRIDE) course. Applicants to become foster parents must also complete any additional training required by the state, including universal precautions training, psychotropic medication training, and First Aid and CPR training.

A final step in becoming a foster parent is the family home study, where a caseworker from DFPS will visit with you in your home and discuss personal histories and family interests. The caseworker will be interested in learning your existing childcare experience and how you are best able to meet the needs of a child. The caseworker prepares a report based on their recommendations after the family home study and may suggest a child who may be the best match for your family.

Adopt your foster child when you are ready to make the forever commitment.

After you are approved as a foster parent and have been matched with a foster child and things have been going well, you can apply to adopt your foster child by filing an adoption petition with the court. Adoption petitions involving currently placed foster children and parents are relatively quick and easy. Once you adopt a foster child you can obtain new vital records such as a social security number and birth certificate once the adoption is approved and ordered by the court at the final adoption hearing.

While you do not necessarily need an attorney to represent you through the process of becoming a foster parent, it may be helpful, especially if you are concerned about any wrinkles along the way. After being placed with a foster child with whom the bond develops your attorney will lead you through the filing of an adoption petition and a final hearing.

The Barrows Firm shares important information and resources about the foster parent and adoption process. If you need more information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, The Barrows Firm can help answer your additional questions.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

[i] Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Steps to Become a Foster/Adoptive Parent

The Barrows Firm Law Review – Recent Podcasts 
 

The Barrows Firm Law Review is a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas family, criminal, juvenile, probate and estate planning law and events. Attorney Leslie Barrows is our featured attorney guest host who tells us what happens and what we can expect in a variety of situations we might encounter.

From adoption and birth to death and probate tax, Leslie helps us all make sure our ducks are in a row. On this program we dispel myths and the grocery store line tales of what happens in divorce or DWI defense. Every month you can expect a fresh topic on our program as well as local news and legal industry events in and around Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

Listen to a few of our recent shows this year and feel free to click a share or like button to let your friends and family know about little law firm with a big impact on the lives of many. If you are looking for a stuffy conversation you have found the wrong show. The Barrows Firm Law Review is real, it’s friendly and funny at times when humor helps us all tackle tough situations.

How to tune in and listen to our program anytime:

To listen to one of our recent programs, simply click on the title below and you will be directed to that program in The Barrows Firm blog, The Captain’s Log. There will be a play button you can click to listen. The episodes are about 30 minutes long for your listening convenience.

 

Recent Barrows Firm Law Review Podcasts

Juvenile Law Podcast: Affluenza Teen case

  • The juvenile court system and how it differs from adult court
  • The rationale of the Affluenza defense, was it good in theory but may have failed in this case
  • How probation works and what happens how people run into problems
  • When is it most likely an individual is pulled from the juvenile system into adult court
  • Impressions about the Affluenza Teen case and what we can learn

 

Financial issues in divorce and family law

  • Financial disclosures and the discovery process in divorce and family law
  • Asset evaluations and classifications of joint marital or separate individual property
  • Income issues and determinations in divorce, child support, other family law matters
  • Tax issues in divorce including filing status, claiming dependent exemptions, negotiating tax issues and liabilities
  • Updating your will, estate planning documents and insurance policies after a divorce

 

Involuntary mental health commitments

  • Mental health and care needs at various ages and circumstances
  • Describing the facilities and care options available to individuals
  • Texas law, Mental Health Code and Code of Criminal Procedure
  • Approaching mental health commitments for short-term reasons
  • Long-term considerations for mental health commitments
  • Steps to take when considering taking action in seeking a commitment

 

Summer time possession schedules

  • What is summer time possession schedule and how is it addressed in the Texas Family Code?
  • When is it a good time to work on getting a summer time possession schedule in place?
  • Can I use the summer time possession schedule from last year, or can we modify it?
  • How can I enforce the summer time possession schedule if the other parent ignores it?
  • What do I say to my child asking questions about the summer and I do not know what to say?

 

Domestic Violence: Southlake and McKinney shootings

  • Personal protection and safety when you realize there is a domestic violence risk
  • Safety and security during divorce and family law cases, avoiding threats of violence
  • Could a protective order help save the women in Southlake or McKinney?
  • Preventing domestic violence in the courtroom, what steps can be taken
  • Responding to domestic violence and what to do if things go horribly wrong

 

Texas DPS and interaction with law enforcement

  • What to do when you encounter Texas DPS and other law enforcement, attitude is everything
  • Texas DPS and their role in law enforcement and the suspension or revocation of licenses
  • New surcharge waiver program with DPS and options to clear drivers licenses
  • Legal issues in addition to DWI that can affect your Texas driver’s license
  • Restoration of your Texas driver’s license and how a lawyer can help you in the process

 

Leslie Barrows is the principal founder of The Barrows Firm in Fort Worth, Texas. In her firm’s main practice areas of family law, criminal defense and juvenile law, Leslie is consistently challenged with dynamic cases and clients. When winning is what matters, many in the Fort Worth area go to The Barrows Firm based on their reputation an winning track record over the past decade. Leslie Barrows earned her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University and she earned her law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. She is a member of numerous organizations primarily focused in Tarrant County.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center. You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

PODCAST: Texas DPS and interaction with law enforcement with Attorney Leslie Barrows 
 

The Barrows Firm Law Review is a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas family, criminal, juvenile, probate and estate planning law and events. Attorney Leslie Barrows is our featured guest today as she shares insight and information about interacting with law enforcement and Texas Department of Public Safety.

Texas DPS and interaction with law enforcement with Attorney Leslie Barrows

  • What to do when you encounter Texas DPS and other law enforcement, attitude is everything
  • Texas DPS and their role in law enforcement and the suspension or revocation of licenses
  • New surcharge waiver program with DPS and options to clear drivers licenses
  • Legal issues in addition to DWI that can affect your Texas driver’s license
  • Restoration of your Texas driver’s license and how a lawyer can help you in the process

Leslie Barrows is the principal founder of The Barrows Firm in Fort Worth, Texas. In her firm’s main practice areas of family law, criminal defense and juvenile law, Leslie is consistently challenged with dynamic cases and clients. When winning is what matters, many in the Fort Worth area go to The Barrows Firm based on their reputation an winning track record over the past decade. Leslie Barrows earned her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University and she earned her law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. She is a member of numerous organizations primarily focused in Tarrant County.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

Police searches of people, vehicles and homes: Consent to search and positive attitude 
 

Criminal defense practice is an important constitutional safeguard, making sure people have their right to the due process of law and assuring the state proves their charges. In recent times our law enforcement officers have been the subject of attack on many fronts. Many of us are respectful and proud of the men and women who serve and protect us, and the role of a criminal defense attorney is to assure the system works correctly and our law enforcement officers do their job accurately. Police will often say that attitude is everything. When an officer stops a vehicle or arrives at a call to a residence, they may have little information as to what they are likely to encounter. While some people are cooperative and peaceful toward law enforcement, others are belligerent and threatening. As citizens we should be aware of our constitutional rights, but that does not mean we should assert our rights in an abusive manner, because that is not productive. Knowing how to conduct yourself and remain calm is important, because the officers you encounter are simply doing their job. This article offers a few tips about your rights and best ways to conduct yourself if you encounter law enforcement officers.

What may happen and what you can do in a vehicle stop.

Remain in your vehicle, turn the engine off, leave your seatbelt on and comply with the officer’s instructions. It is not a good idea to get out of your car and approach a traffic officer because that could appear as an act of aggression, putting the officer on the defense.

Nowadays many of us have cell phone mounts on dashboards which can be used as our own personal dash cameras, and when you record the interior of your vehicle you have a recorded record of your interaction with police. However, recording an officer in a way that disrupts their investigation of the vehicle stop is a bad idea and may be an offense itself.

Many people are nervous when stopped by an officer. If you were stopped for speeding or failure to signal, the stop should be routine and you may receive a citation. If you are calm and polite there may be no reason for alarm. If, however, you are overly talkative or otherwise are acting nervous, you may make the officer nervous or suspect you have something to hide.

The officer may ask for consent to search the vehicle and you have a right to say no.

If an officer suspects you may have something in your possession or vehicle, prohibited by law, you may be asked if the officer may search your vehicle. If the officer asks you to exit the vehicle and pat you down, they are doing so for safety and to make sure you don’t have anything that will hurt them. Consent to search your vehicle, however, is another story. You have a constitutional right to refuse any requests to search your vehicle, but please do so in a calm and polite way. If the officer has reasonable suspicion that the vehicle contains drugs, they can bring out a sniffing dog, but they must do so within the time it takes to investigate the original purpose of the vehicle stop and they cannot detain you longer.

What may happen and what you may expect if officers knock on your front door.

Law enforcement officers may be even more cautious approaching a residence where the occupants have an expectation of safety and privacy. Similar to a vehicle stop, you have the right to say no if an officer asks if they may enter your home. Be aware that if you do allow an officer in your home, they will be looking around the immediate area to see if there is anything that could cause them harm. As well they may be looking for evidence of any crimes or wrongdoing in their plain view. So if grandmother visited from Colorado and left her medical marijuana and pipe on a shelf or table, you or she may be taking a trip to the local jail because that is not legal in Texas.

Many law enforcement officers may be comfortable talking to you through the front screen door or on your porch or yard near the front of your home. There are less threats of harm to them when they have a better feeling of safety and control for their immediate space.

If the police believe a crime is being committed in your house, such as an incident of family violence, they may enter your residence despite your refusal of consent. At that point, it may be your word versus that of the officer and it may be a matter for a judge or jury to decide whether the officer legally entered your home. Again, you may be more comfortable with a camera recording the event, but unlike the dash camera situation, you may have to hold the camera and police might not appreciate that.

At the end of the day, remember that the police may have body cameras and how you conduct yourself can be helpful to a judge or jury regarding your character. Likewise, if you act like a jerk and scream that you know your rights, it may reflect poorly on you.

The Barrows Firm shares important information and resources about criminal and traffic matters and legal defense. If you have questions about an incident involving an arrest, citation or criminal charges, The Barrows Firm can answer all your questions and defend you and your rights.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

Texas Supreme Court: Direct child support payments in enforcement causes 
 

In a divorce or family law action in Texas courts, involving the support of children, the trial court accepts the agreement of the parents or orders one parent to pay child support to the other parent, with whom the child usually resides. The trial court order specifies the amount of child support, the duration of payments and the required method of payment. In most cases the county in which the cause is determined, will collect child support payments through the county child support office. A standard withholding order may be entered, directing employers to withhold and send to that county child support office, the amount of child support due, which is then dispersed to the parent entitled to receive the child support. Changes in circumstances may involve direct payments of child support, outside the standard withholding arrangement through the county. In this instant cause, Preston v. Victoria, the Texas Supreme Court interpreted the law and determined that payments made outside the direct-payment order of the trial court, were sufficient to satisfy the father’s obligations, even though he did not follow the exact order of the trial court.

The Court was asked to rule on an issue of direct child support payments, and the credit of those funds toward any child support arrearage, in an enforcement action.

The issue in Preston Ochsner v. Victoria Ochsner is whether the trial court has discretion to consider direct payments either to the other parent or to a third party in deciding whether an arrearage exists, in a child support enforcement action.

When Mr. Preston Ochsner and Ms. Victoria Ochsner were divorced in 2001, Preston was ordered to pay Victoria $240 per month in two installments. Additionally, Preston was ordered to pay $563 per month, directly to the daughter’s preschool. The order indicated that after the daughter stopped attending the preschool, Preston was required to pay Victoria $400, twice a month, through a registry, the Harris County Child Support Office. The order contained language stating that failure to comply with the place and manner requirement, “may result in the party not receiving credit for making the payment.” Preston A. Ochsner v. Victoria V. Ochsner, No. 14-0638 (Tex. 2015) [i].

The reason child support payments are directed through a registry, in this case, the Harris County Child Support Office, is to prevent disputes over direct payments. In some cases, a parent might buy a child new shoes, take them on vacation or otherwise spend money on them, and then make the argument that the direct expenditures count towards the child support obligation. Where payments are made in a disorderly manner, the court may disallow the practice of making child support payments outside the county system.

Child support enforcement proceedings, the calculation of arrearages.

When a party entitled to receive child support payments does not receive what is ordered, an enforcement action can be filed, and the court will make determination to identify the amounts paid, amounts past due (in arrearage) and what the party ordered to pay must do to bring the child support obligation current.

What happened in the Ochsner cause: After the daughter stopped attending the preschool, instead of making the twice monthly $400 payment through the Harris County Child Support Office, Preston made direct payments to various private schools, for his daughter’s tuition. Meanwhile, Victoria sued Preston in a child support enforcement action, for money Preston did not pay through the registry, as ordered by the trial court. However, it was determined by the Court that Preston paid a total amount near $80,000 for the upbringing of his daughter, more than $20,000 more than would have been paid had he made payments to the registry in Harris County.

The objective of the trial court in the enforcement proceeding (note that the original child support order and an enforcement action are separate causes, the enforcement cause being new and independent of the original underlying cause) is to determine how much child support has been paid, what is past due, and what needs to happen to get the arrearage paid.   

What may the trial court consider when it comes to direct payments made outside the court order?

The Ochsner case made it to the Supreme Court of Texas because Victoria appealed the trial court’s decision that Preston did satisfy his child support requirements, even though the payments were not made through the registry as ordered. The Court of Appeals for the Fourteenth District of Texas disagreed with the trial court, holding that Preston did not satisfy his child support obligation. Reversing the appellate court, the Supreme Court of Texas held that in an enforcement action, state law allows for the calculation of direct payments in determining child support payments made and that which is outstanding.

The Supreme Court reviewed and interpreted Texas statutory law concerning child support orders and enforcement actions. The Texas Family Code directs a trial court to consider direct tuition payments made outside the registry, within its discretion. The opinion states in pertinent part: “Nothing in the statute suggests that the trial court can consider only payments made through the registry in determining the amount of child support that an obligor has paid, and thus the amount for which the obligor is in arrears.[ii]

What is the effect of this case on other child support enforcement causes in Texas courts?

Critics of the opinion fear the Ochsner decision will open the door to more cases in which child support obligors make direct payments for the benefit of a child, in making child support payments, outside the traditional manner of a withholding order and the local county child support office registry. While making tuition payments may be easily traceable and accounted in one cause, others may cause a court to make more difficult decisions in determining whether money spent is considered payment of child support. The concern is putting the discretion in the hands of child support obligors who may go to great lengths to ensure that not a dime of child support money passes through the other party’s hands.

In light of the decision in Ochsner, more Texas appellate courts and the Supreme Court of Texas may decide disputed child support enforcement causes of action to answer legal issues in cases interpreting Ochsner. In addition, the Texas legislature could adopt changes to the law to make the issue of child support enforcement more clear, when it comes to payments made outside the traditional registry and county systems.

The Barrows Firm shares important information and resources about parenting issues and concerns that affect families in the DFW Metroplex. If you have questions about child support, The Barrows Firm can answer all your questions.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

[i] Preston A. Ochsner v. Victoria V. Ochsner, No. 14-0638 (Tex. 2015) at pages 2-3.

[ii] Ochsner at page 8.

Domestic Violence Podcast: Southlake and McKinney Shootings with Attorney Leslie Barrows 
 

The Barrows Firm Law Review is a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas family, criminal, juvenile, probate and estate planning law and events. Attorney Leslie Barrows is our featured guest today as she shares insight and information about domestic and family violence.

Domestic Violence: Southlake and McKinney Shootings with Attorney Leslie Barrows

  • Personal protection and safety when you realize there is a domestic violence risk
  • Safety and security during divorce and family law cases, avoiding threats of violence
  • Could a protective order help save the women in Southlake or McKinney?
  • Preventing domestic violence in the courtroom, what steps can be taken
  • Responding to domestic violence and what to do if things go horribly wrong

Leslie Barrows is the principal founder of The Barrows Firm in Fort Worth, Texas. In her firm’s main practice areas of family law, criminal defense and juvenile law, Leslie is consistently challenged with dynamic cases and clients. When winning is what matters, many in the Fort Worth area go to The Barrows Firm based on their reputation an winning track record over the past decade. Leslie Barrows earned her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University and she earned her law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. She is a member of numerous organizations primarily focused in Tarrant County.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

No child support payment, no vehicle registration renewal, no joke 
 

Too often, unfortunately, some parents willfully fail to make child support payments. Initially when a child support order is entered with the district court clerk a withholding order is completed and sent to the employer, so the child support money is directly debited from the paycheck of the parent paying child support. When the child support obligor loses that job, there may be a court proceeding to reduce or otherwise modify the child support order to reflect a change in income of the child support obligor. Some people decide to work for cash jobs and fail to report their income to the court when the other party insists that the other parent actually has income to pay. The effort that some go to in order to avoid paying child support can be a significant eye opener.

Motivating people to pay their child support is a challenge for Texas lawmakers.

Beginning this fall, parents who are behind on their child support payments may be surprised when in September, they learn that there may a block on their vehicle registration renewal beginning in December. The Child Support Division will send letters to the effected child support obligors. This new enforcement effort applies to individuals who are six months or more behind on child support payments. Texas law enforcement has eyes on windshields, on the lookout for expired registration stickers. The penalty for driving on expired registration may vary by county and the tickets can affect insurance premiums.

In Fort Worth, Texas, the ticket for driving on an expired registration is $100 per offense. You could receive multiple tickets, and if you don’t pay them, they go to warrant status, which adds another $50. Collection fees for tickets may also be added. If there is a warrant issued for your arrest, you could be taken to jail if you are stopped by law enforcement, or worse yet, collected and taken to jail in a regularly conducted warrant round-up.

The Texas Attorney General may already revoke the driver’s license or professional or recreational licenses of the individuals who fail to pay child support. Avoiding detection by law enforcement, however, is more difficult when your registration sticker and license plates give you away as a child support evader. Police frequently run license plate numbers and can tell in seconds if yours is expired.

Critics of the registration renewal block for unpaid child support say it makes it even harder for some to get caught up with their payments.

While too many of us focus on the “deadbeats” who simply refuse to pay, to spite their ex or worse yet, their child, there are parents working several jobs and struggling not only to keep up with their child support but also keeping the lights on at home and gas in the tank to get to work.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who gets laid off from work due to forces beyond your control. You find out how you may have to work two or more lower paying jobs to keep up while you hunt for a new position of meeting your expectations. Despite your best efforts and scrimping and saving, you can only pay half the child support payment every month. Eventually you will be six months behind in scheduled payments and face registration non-renewal. Do you drive illegally to get to work anyways?

What can you do if you are behind on child support and worried about losing your vehicle registration?

Lawmakers respond to critics, “The goal, obviously, is not to keep people from working or getting to work, but it is to gain compliance with court orders and get support and money to children[i],” said Janice Rolfe, Child Support Division spokesperson. Rolfe also said a payment arrangement can be made and fulfilled, and there is a phone line parents can use to make payment arrangements.

If you lost your job or had a significant income change, you may have taken steps to temporarily reduce your child support obligation. If, however, you have been without sufficient income to make child support payments through your employer withholding or otherwise, there may be options available for you to reduce and reorganize your payments, by filing a motion to modify child support and appearing before the court for a modification hearing. Doing nothing and risking tickets and possible suspensions of your registration or driving privileges can make it harder to bring everything current.

The Barrows Firm shares important information and resources about parenting issues and concerns that affect families in the DFW Metroplex. If you have unpaid child support or you are not receiving child support, The Barrows Firm can answer all your questions and help get things back on track.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

 

[i] The Texas Tribune, Texas to Tie Car Registration Renewal to Child Support, by Madlin Mekelburg, Jun. 14, 2016.