June 2011 | Cordell & Cordell

Archives for June 2011

TX men seek help after paternity fraud law

A Texas law that allows men who believe they are the victims of paternity fraud to try to legally terminate their future child support obligations has given dozens of men the opportunity to have their day in court, according to the Beaumont Enterprise.

Before the legislation was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on May 12, men could only ask for a DNA test before they were legally named the father of the child. If they gave up that right before appearing before a judge and being legally declared the father, it was almost impossible for men to challenge their child support obligations, even if a later paternity test proved he was not the father.

With the passage of SB 785, men who have been legally named as a child’s father can challenge paternity in court. A number of practicing attorneys in Beaumont, told the newspaper they have been contacted by about 270 people since the bill was passed regarding paternity fraud cases.

The law allows men who want to challenge paternity to file a petition and then attend a court hearing to determine whether there is proof to support his claim and take a court-ordered DNA test. If the test determines he is not the child’s biological father he will not have to pay future child support.

Other states have also taken steps to tackle paternity fraud. The Tennessee Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving a man who claims he was tricked into supporting a child that was not biologically his own. The ruling could potentially change the way paternity fraud is legally addressed in the state.

Single dad households on the rise in US

While most single-parent households in the U.S. are primarily lead by women, there is a rapidly increasing number of single fathers in the nation who are juggling the responsibilities of working and raising a child on their own, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Although 2009 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau reports that only 17.4 percent of custodial parents in the nation were men, the number is steadily rising. For instance, the newspaper reports that the number of single dads has increased 28 percent over the past decade while the number of single mothers declined for the first time since 1970.

“Many years ago, family courts would be reticent to award custody to the father even in the face of the mother having some issues,” Hans Johnson, of the Public Policy Institute of California, told the newspaper. “Today, fathers are expected to take on more child-rearing responsibilities than they were 30 years ago.”

In addition, a 2006 survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers members found that 22 percent of attorneys noticed an increase in cases where a father wins sole child custody, while none reported noticing a similar growth among mothers.

Some states have instituted new policies encouraging 50-50 child custody. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam recently signed legislation that requires family court judges to make custody decisions that maximize the presence of both parents in a child’s life.

Studio to dock Sheen’s wages for child support

A Los Angeles Superior Court approved a request from Charlie Sheen’s ex-wife, Brook Mueller, requesting that Sheen’s former bosses at Warner Brothers dock $55,000 a month toward child support from any payments they make to the actor, according to multiple reports.

The former couple divorced in May, about two months after Sheen was fired from his starring role on the highly-rated sitcom “Two and a Half Men”. Sheen and Warner Brothers have reportedly been in a legal battle since that time regarding the payments.

The child support payments are intended to go toward the needs of Sheen’s sons with Mueller, which was part of their divorce settlement. The couple have 2-year-old twin sons together.

Sheen was fired from his stint on “Men” earlier this year after a series of stunts that included publicly insulting show creator Chuck Lorre. Sources recently reported that Sheen’s character is set to be replaced by Ashton Kutcher when the show returns in the fall.

Sheen was the highest paid actor on television, reportedly earning nearly $2 million for each episode of “Men.”

Gibson reaches divorce settlement with wife

Mel Gibson has reached a settlement with estranged wife Robyn Moore after two years of divorce proceedings, according to multiple reports.

The couple was married for 28 years before Moore filed for divorce in 2009, citing irreconcilable differences. However, the two had been legally separated since 2006.

Although details of the settlement have not been released, it reportedly includes a settlement of real estate and other property the former couple once shared. Gibson was once estimated to be worth about $900 million before the U.S. real estate crash.

Moore is the mother of seven of Gibson’s children. The “Lethal Weapon” star had another child with Russian-born musician Oksana Grigorieva in November 2008.

The divorce is expected to be finalized by August.

Dodgers bankruptcy complicates divorce

The Los Angeles Dodgers were forced to file for bankruptcy protection in a move that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said was caused by Major League Baseball’s refusal to approve of a media transaction between the team and Fox television.

The bankruptcy is likely to further complicate the divorce proceedings between McCourt and his wife, Jamie, who have been locked in a bitter dispute regarding ownership of the Dodgers. The McCourts had recently reached a settlement that would have allowed Frank McCourt to retain ownership of the team if MLB Commissioner Bud Selig had approved of the long-term Fox contract.

McCourt reportedly planned on using at least $10 million of the proceeds to pay Jamie, as well as for personal use, according to the New York Post.

In a statement, Frank McCourt said Selig “turned his back on the Dodgers” by denying the television contract, which reportedly would have solved the team’s financial struggles.

“I simply cannot allow the Commissioner to knowingly and intentionally be in a position to expose the Dodgers to financial risk any longer. It is my hope that the Chapter 11 process will create a fair and constructive environment to get done what we couldn’t achieve with the Commissioner directly,” McCourt stated.

Under the Chapter 11 filing, the salaries and benefits of Dodger employees will be paid and the team will operate within their existing budget to sign and acquire players. Ticket prices and other stadium amenities will also be maintained.