By DANIEL RAY
Special to the Herald-Banner
In this week’s installments of “Ask an Attorney” we will discuss paternity testing and tickets for failure to maintain auto insurance. For more detailed answers, you should consult an attorney.
My ex-girlfriend came into the gas station where I work the other day, and told me she had a baby in January of last year. She said it was my baby, which is the first I heard of it since she moved to Louisiana after we broke up five months before the baby was born.
Now she’s asking for child support payments from me. She also says I can sign away my rights to her new boyfriend if I don’t want to pay. She refuses to show me the birth certificate, but says my name is on it. Can I force her to prove the kid is mine? — L.G., Greenville
Yes, you can ask for a paternity test. If she is asking for you to sign over rights, your name may also be on the birth certificate, which you can obtain by calling the Louisiana Department of Health at 877-605-8562.
Since you were not married to your ex-girlfriend at the time of the child’s birth, there is no time limit on testing. If your ex-girlfriend was married to another man at the time of the child’s birth, he may be presumed to be the child’s “father” under Texas or Louisiana law depending on several factors. This entire situation is drastically complicated by the mix of Texas and Louisiana law, which may affect your rights and obligations.
If the Louisiana court that handles the potential adoption finds that your ex’s current boyfriend would be a suitable parent, it may allow the adoption — assuming it is in the child’s best interest. In both Louisiana and Texas, however, a court may require you to pay back child support even if you are giving up future parental rights.
I got pulled over by the Highway Patrol and received a ticket for “Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility.” I had an insurance card, but it had my maiden name instead of my married name. The clerk at the Justice of the Peace in Rockwall said I had to pay the ticket because I didn’t have the right name. Is that right? — AJ, Cumby
No, that is incorrect. First, you need to get a new card with your married name, and ensure that it shows your insurance was in place on the date you received the ticket.
Before providing the new card to the clerk, call the number listed on the card and make sure the company’s files show that you were listed under your maiden name and then switched to your married name with no break in coverage. The clerk or prosecutor will call that same number to verify that information before a dismissal, so you will want to complete this step to avoid more wasted time.
Unfortunately, I know people who have relied on similar improper advice to “just pay the ticket” when they actually had valid insurance coverage and the violation should have been dismissed. As a result they were needlessly convicted of a crime they did not commit, paid a minimum $350 fine, and then incurred hundreds of dollars in “hidden” charges: $150 a year of license surcharges for three years. That is a high price to pay for a maiden/married name mix-up.
If you have a brief legal question on any topic, please forward it to Daniel@smrt-law.com.
Daniel Ray is an Greenville, Texas attorney licensed in all Texas courts. His firm, Scott, Money, Ray & Thomas, PLLC, represents the City of Greenville, Hunt County, and many other public and private North Texas entities. His practice emphasis is civil litigation, wills and trusts and real estate.
This article is intended for entertainment and educational purposes as well as to give the reader general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By reading this article you agree that you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the author or publisher.
The article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your area.