I went to family law court today through TX A G office to set child support and visitation in (name of city deleted). They gave us joint custody and I didn't know that I could speak up and disagree, so I signed the papers. I have raised my daughter for 13 years and supported her while he sees her occassionally when he's not in jail. I have had no help money-wise since she was 3 and I don't think he deserves the same equal rights I have and I regret signing this paperwork. Is there anything i can do now?
First, the Office of the Texas Attorney General's Office represents the taxpayers of the State of Texas. They do not represent either party. Normally their representatives tell you this little known fact as soon as you enter the door but usually so quickly that most people don't hear it. Their only concern is to collect child support so that the child is not supported by the taxpayers of the State of Texas. Their job is to get children off all government assistance. They want parents to fully support their children.
Also, this office is responsible for collecting reimbursement for any monies that has been spent on this child by the taxpayers such as food stamps, housing, or Medicaid. If the mother ever signed up for any service (state and/or federal) if she read the fine print, she signed over her rights to the government to collect this money on behalf of the government and the taxpayers. Once a person collected $1 of benefits then that person allows the government to collect money and the person cannot stop the government from going after the other parent for the money owed.
Second, the paperwork generated by the Office of the Texas Attorney General's office is standardized. They are not set up for "customized" visitation scheduled. They do not have the staff or time necessary to "customize" visitation based on the needs of the parents and/or the children. They need to move their caseload quickly so that the staff can handle the huge caseload that they handle on a daily basis.
Third, the staff speaks quickly and I often find that they don't have the time to fully explain the legal implications of what these legal documents mean. Most people do not fully understand what they are signing. I have seen people gently pressured into signing paperwork that they don't want to sign. I've seen men agree to pay monthly child support that exceeded their monthly take-home pay - it was totally unrealistic and was only setting these men up for jail and a huge debt that they could never pay.
Lastly, please find the money to hire an attorney to represent you before you set foot in the door of the Office of the Texas Attorney General's office. You will be treated much better and your case will be handled first. If you hire an attorney, the staff will move your file to the top of the stack! You won't have to spend the entire day waiting to be seen. That reason alone, is reason enough to hire an attorney.