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Understanding more about child support and minor parents

It can prove to be a very difficult situation when two young people -- meaning those under the age of 18 -- have a child together and are at odds over various issues, including child support.

At least part of this difficulty can be traced to the simple fact that the parties are not considered adults in the eyes of the law, such that already complex and contentious legal proceedings can potentially become even more so.

What does Texas law have to say in relation to minor parents?

As we stated above, minor parents are not treated as adults by the law. What this means is that they cannot attend legal proceedings on their own and must have what is known as a "next friend" present.

What exactly is a next friend?

A next friend is essentially an adult who will serve as a representative for the minor, accompanying them to all court hearings and conferences, and ensuring that they understand the legal decisions being discussed and ultimately made.

Who can serve as a next friend?   

Typically, the next friend will be the parent or legal guardian of the minor. However, in the event neither of these parties are available to the minor, he or she may have a trusted adult who is willing to perform the aforementioned duties accompany them to court, where the judge will determine whether they are fit to serve as next friend.

In the event the judge finds that this trusted adult is not fit to serve as next friend or the minor parent doesn't have anyone willing to serve in this capacity, a guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem can be appointed.  

What does all this have to do with minor parents and child support?

When a minor parent applies for child support services via the Child Support Division in the Office of the Attorney General of Texas -- which can provide assistance "establishing, enforcing and modifying child support orders" -- they must provide the name and contact information of a next friend.

We hope you found the foregoing information helpful. However, if you are a minor parent with questions or concerns regarding child support, child custody or any other family law issue, please understand that you don't have to handle matters on your own. Please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can not only answer your question and explain the law, but fight to protect your best interests.

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