Jamie Graham & Associates, PLLC

How does family law deal with minor parents?


In Texas, not all parents are legal adults themselves. Still, they are subject to the state's body of family law, and may have disputes involving child support, child custody and other issues. Understanding how the law handles minor parents is key when these circumstances arise.

In Texas, a minor is not viewed as a legal adult in a civil case unless there is an adult representative. When a minor parent seeks child support, he or she must have a name and contact information of an adult who will be called the "next friend." This person is responsible to provide protection to the minor's legal rights. It is up to the next friend to make certain that the minor parent grasps the legal decisions that are made in court. The next friend will accompany the minor parent to any pretrial conferences or court hearings, but will not be held responsible for court fees, medical support or child support.

The next friend is typically the minor's parent or legal guardian, but if the parent or guardian is unable or unwilling to be the next friend, the minor parent can bring a trusted adult to be the next friend. The court will ultimately decide on who is appointed as the next friend. The court can also appoint a guardian ad litem or an attorney ad litem to be the representative of the minor parent.

While it might not be viewed as optimal if a minor has a child, there are strategies that can be used to handle the situation with assistance from a next friend. Since a child is a significant responsibility, understanding the family legal issues that go along with it is essential. A lawyer who is experienced in all areas of family law in Texas can help minor parents and their guardians.

Source: texasattorneygeneral.gov "Minor Parents," accessed on April 11, 2017

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