Does ‘Sperm Donor’ Mean ‘Dad’?

The Jason-Patric-assisted-reproduction story has been in the news, and earlier this week, the New York Times did a lengthy story on it.

The actor Jason Patric dated Danielle Schreiber on and off for many years. During a time when they were “off” but friendly, they agreed to use his sperm so that she could have a child, Gus. After Gus was born, they reconciled, and then eventually broke up when Gus was about two years old. Jason sued for custody, while Danielle claimed he was merely a sperm donor with no parental rights.

In a similar Texas case, In re Sullivan, an unmarried man and woman agreed to conceive a child through assisted reproduction, and signed a “co-parenting agreement.”  When the man later tried to claim parental rights, the woman moved to dismiss his case because a donor is not a parent under Texas law.  Continue reading Does ‘Sperm Donor’ Mean ‘Dad’?

Electronic Evidence: Who’s Really Getting Caught in the Act?

This article will be appearing in the June 2010 issue of the Dallas Bar Association’s Headnotes publication.

Many clients have questions about whether they can record phone calls, hide a camera to catch a cheating spouse in the act, or access a spouse’s emails. Attorneys wonder whether such evidence may be used at trial.

Electronic evidence can be a trap for both client and attorney, exposing them to extensive civil and even criminal liability. A confusing mix of state and federal laws on wiretapping and computer security can have significant effects on divorcing spouses. Further, a spouse can be subject to private suits and common-law tort liability. This article will address the most common types of surreptitious electronic evidence and the pitfalls associated with each.

Continue reading Electronic Evidence: Who’s Really Getting Caught in the Act?

Am I Allowed To…?

I often receive questions from clients about what they’re permitted to do in a divorce to obtain evidence:

Can I record calls?
Can I put a hidden camera in our home?
Can I put a GPS tracker on my spouse’s car?

These questions are governed by a confusing mix of state and federal laws that can have steep financial and criminal penalties. Importantly, there are no exceptions for spouses.

In order to answer some of the most common questions, I’ve put together a brochure aimed at non-lawyers, and available for download here.

Great Forms from Travis County

Travis County provides some great forms on their website for property and child issues. I think they’re meant to assist pro se litigants, but they’re a great tool for attorneys too. I can see them being useful in preparing for temporary orders hearings, using as a checklist of issues, and assisting with mediation.

Download the parenting plan form here.
Download the property and support form here.