Information for Minor Parents
Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience – regardless of your age. In the United States, minor parents are often subject to the same legal rights and obligations as adult parents. For instance, a teen parent might be obligated to pay child support. A minor parent might be able to obtain visitation rights as well. At Menduni Martindill, PLLC we are dedicated to helping families, protecting children, and preserving parental rights through legal representation. If you're facing a legal issue related to a minor parent and one of the following family law matters, contact our Austin family attorneys.
Minor Parents and Child Support
You might think that young parents can avoid paying child support. In reality, minor parents are often subject to the same financial responsibilities as parents who are legal adults. Even parents who are less than 18 years old and still in school have to pay child support. However, the court will take the parent's personal circumstances into consideration while determining how much support he/she will pay. If a foster parent will take care of the child, both parents will be required to pay support. The court will decide how much support the parent will pay based on his/her current income and earning potential.
Establishing Paternity as a Minor
In Texas, minors can establish paternity by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form. Minors can sign the AOP without their parents' or guardians' permission. Thus, establishing paternity as a minor is much like establishing paternity as an adult. There are three ways to establish paternity in Texas: through a voluntary paternity establishment, an agreed paternity order, or court-order paternity. Voluntary paternity simply establishes the legal father of the child; whereas an agreed paternity order establishes paternity and the parents' legal right to pursue custody and support. Court-ordered paternity establishes the same legal obligations and rights as an agreed paternity order, but is usually obtained when the parents disagree on father's identity.
Frequently Asked Questions for Minor Parents
- Do minor parents need an adult representative during a child support suit? Yes. The court does not recognize minor parents as legal adults during civil legal proceedings. Thus, minors must provide information about the parents/legal guardian when they apply for child support services. During legal proceedings, the adult will serve as the minor's representative. The representative will be referred to as the child's "next friend" and is responsible to protect the minor's legal rights during court proceedings. In some cases, the minor's parent/legal guardian is unable to serve as the next friend and a court-appointed representative is used to protect the minor's rights instead.
- The child's grandparents are providing support. Do the child's parents still need to establish paternity? Yes. The child's rights are not protected unless his/her paternity is established. Additionally, the father's rights are not protected without legal paternity. If the child's grandparents are providing food, formula, clothes, diapers, etc., it is still important to protect the child's rights.
- What are the responsibilities of a "next friend?" Next friends are responsible to accompany minor parents to any court hearings, pretrial negotiations, and other legal proceedings. The next friend is responsible to make sure that the minor parent understands any decisions made during the court process. Next friends are not responsible to pay any court fees, child support, court costs, or medical support.
Contact Our Austin Family Attorneys
If you need help sorting out a legal issue related to minor parents, child custody, child support, or paternity, the Austin family attorneys at Menduni Martindill, PLLC can help. We are recognized by the BBB® and were selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers®. Contact us to see what a skilled legal representative can do for your family law case.