Category Archives: Schreier Housewirth

Adoption Options for Families

Our daughter is adopted.  Eighteen years later, I remember the experience as if it were yesterday.  All those years ago, adoption agencies controlled the process, matching birthmothers with adoptive families, presenting the adoption options and then handling the legal work on both ends of the equation.  It was very much a face-to-face business. parents holding their newly adopted child

In purely economic terms, these adoption agencies controlled supply (by recruiting and supporting birthmothers during their pregnancies) and demand (by recruiting couples desiring to adopt children).  Because the demand for healthy newborn babies far outpaces supply, adoption agencies routinely charged over $25,000 for their services as intermediaries in the process.

You know what happened next.  Birthmothers and adopting parents went online, making their own connections, cutting both costs and corners in the adoption process.  While we will never go back to the days when adoption was strictly a “brick and mortar” industry, the same rules of law apply in our culture of online searches, message boards, and social media.

If you seek to adopt a child in Texas, consider these facts and adoption options as you begin your journey.

Only a licensed child-placing agency is authorized to facilitate the adoption of children by adoptive families.  Avoid solicitations from facilitators, including lawyers, who represent they have an “inventory” of birthmothers or babies to be adoption.  Such activity is illegal under Texas law.

You can do your own match with a birthmother, but you cannot buy a baby.   Texas law does allow for the payment of some prenatal and postnatal expenses and the birthmother’s living expenses, but Texas law prohibits payment of money in exchange for a child.

You will need an adoption homestudy, prepared by a licensed social worker.  If you have an adoption match, you should get started with your adoption homestudy.  Such studies are very thorough and take time to prepare.  You are also required to produce to the court a criminal history report for each prospective adoptive parent.  To obtain the report, you must have your fingerprints taken and forwarded to Texas DPS.

If you are adopting a child in another state, you must comply with ICPC.  This is where things get dangerous… Interstate Compact on Placement of Children.

Every child has a father – – you just may not know him.  Texas adoption law requires that the parental rights of the child’s presumed or alleged biological father be terminated.  To avoid frustration and even heartbreak ahead, you need to identify and engage the father of the child in your adoption plan.

An affidavit of relinquishment cannot be signed by a birthmother for the first 48 hours after birth.  The intent of this Texas law is clear: to make sure the birthmother is not under the influence of any medications at the time she signs her relinquishment.  This time can be gut wrenching for adopting parents. The flood of emotion surrounding the birth of a child as well as pressure from other family members can unravel an adoption quickly.  A trusted adoption attorney or adoption social worker can help you develop rapport with the birthmother during the months prior to delivery.  Such a rapport can help you to develop a feeling of family that will make relinquishment less traumatic.

Complete a Health, Social, Educational, and Genetic History Report.  This report is also required under Texas adoption law.  The report, completed by the child’s biological family gives adopting parents a bit of an “owner’s manual” that can be very useful in the coming years.  For instance, you should know if anyone in the biological family had any health issues that may be passed on to your baby.

Post-Adoption contact is an agreement, not a contract.  Remember, adoption terminates the rights of the biological parents to the child and you cannot enter into a legally binding contract for post-adoption contact.  The “openness” of your adoption is something for you and the birth-family to discuss. mother and father holding their newly adopted daughter

Now that you know a little of the vocabulary and your adoption options, you hopefully you can distinguish the qualified adoption attorneys from those who are hoping to learn as they go.  I haven’t just been an adoption lawyer for 30 years, I’ve lived the life of an adoptive parent which is a gift unlike any other.

 

Can I get a witness? How the Rules of Evidence can torpedo your family law case

I know it’s summertime, but let’s pull out the old barrister wig, channel our inner Blackstone, and talk about evidence in family law.

In most family law cases, there’s what you know … and then there’s what you can prove.    Proof comes in the form of admissible evidence.  Admissibility is determined by the Texas Rules of Evidence.  Family court judges apply the rules.

This is why so many seemingly simple divorce or custody hearings turn sour; lawyers objecting to testimony or offers of documents and judges making rulings based on their interpretation of the evidence rules.  In court, you’ll hear some of the following objections:
can you prove it—Schreier Housewirth

  • Leading
  • Relevance
  • Hearsay
  • Narrative
  • Privilege
  • Speculation
  • Unresponsive
  • Lack of personal knowledge
  • Compound

With all these rules and their subjective and inconsistent interpretations by family court judges, it’s easy to see how what you know may not be what you can prove.

Let’s take a common example.  Texas Rule of Evidence 401 “Test for Relevant Evidence” states:

Evidence is relevant if:

a.  it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and,

b.  the fact is of consequence in determining the action.

So, evidence may be probative of a fact, e.g., the witness saw Jimmy walking down the road with a fish on a hook may tend to prove Jimmy caught a fish.  But the evidence may not have anything to do with the case at hand, e.g., does Jimmy catching a fish really matter in a child custody hearing?

You’d think there would be some uniformity in the application of these rules, but it’s not.  It’s more like calling a foul in basketball, a strike in baseball, or holding in football; it’s all on the fly.

At Schreier & Housewirth family law, we know family law evidence and help our clients prepare for their day in court.  For over 25 years, Tarrant county divorce and custody clients have turned to our law firm when proof is key and outcomes are critical.

Getting to Know Our Family Law Clients

getting to know our clientsWhen you hire Schreier & Housewirth Family Law for your case, plan on spending some time with us here at the office.  That’s because we will take the time in our initial client intake meeting to really get to know you and your case history.

In family law, it’s often the “back-story” that drives the “lead-story.”  Did his mother always hate you?  Where was she really when she said she was working late?  Why did his uncle loan you the money?  These seemingly trivial questions often unlock a wealth of vital case information.

Knowing your story helps us develop themes critical to the presentation of your case… and helps us to re-package for court your prior failings and indiscretions.

Our clients know, and expect, a close attorney-client relationship when they come to our Tarrant County Family Law offices.  It’s our willingness to take the extra time, that has earned Schreier & Housewirth Family Law the trust of divorce and custody clients for over 25 years.

Our Firm’s Values

Talking about fees isn’t taboo at our family law firm

Are you confused about attorney’s fees? Do you wonder why some divorce lawyers offer their services at a “discount” rate while others accept nothing less than a sizeable retainer?

At Schreier & Housewirth, our Fort Worth family law firm doesn’t compete on price alone; we compete on the value of the representation we provide our clients. Unlike many firms, we encourage your questions about our fees. We attempt to offer our clients flexible payment options whenever possible and we always strive to obtain the most favorable result with the least expense to you.

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