It’s possible today for couples to make the decision to have children at more advanced ages than ever before. Many find that they want to put off children until they have a solid financial foundation, reliable income, savings, a home and so on. However, young people in Dallas — even some under the age of 18 — still do find themselves raising children. Some face this challenge alone, whether due to a divorce, death or the absence of the other parent in the family’s life.
Texas law allows minor custodial parents in this situation to collect child support, and their children are entitled to the same level of support as any other children. However, there are some special legal considerations surrounding minor parents and child support. We’ll take a look in this post and the next at what the Texas Attorney General’s website has to say on this subject, with the understanding that this discussion represents general information only and not specific legal advice.
Although they can collect child support, minor parents are still minors in the eyes of the law. Therefore, they will need an adult’s representation in legal proceedings. In Texas, we call this representative the minor’s “next friend.” A minor will have to provide the next friend’s name and contact information at the time the application for child support is made.
The responsibilities of the next friend, generally speaking, are to protect the minor parent’s legal interests. They must make sure the minor understands the choices they are offered and the potential consequences of their decisions. They will need to accompany the minor to hearings and conferences, although they won’t be on the hook for any associated fees.
Who is eligible to be a minor parent’s next friend in a child support case? We’ll take a closer look at this and some related issues in our follow-up post. As always, we encourage readers with specific questions in the meantime to consider seeking direct advice from a legal professional.
Source: The Attorney General of Texas, “CS Parents Frequently Asked Questions: Minor Parents,” accessed on July 25, 2015