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Aspects of Child Support You Should Understand Prior to Your Divorce

Most People Divorcing Have to Deal With Child Support

For those who have children, child support is among the most important issues that will need to be agreed upon or settled by a judge when a marriage ends. Sixty percent of couples who are seeking a divorce have children, which means that child support is commonly dealt with during these cases. If you’re ready to file for a divorce and you require representation, get in touch with our child support attorney at Stewart Law PLLC to discuss your particular situation.

What Is Child Support?

Child support is a term that refers to the payments one divorced parent must make to the other who has primary custody of the child in question. These payments are ordered by the court and can be determined solely at the discretion of a judge. While the primary goal of child support is to provide money to cover the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter for the child, these payments can also cover a large number of additional expenses that include:

  • Child care
  • Special needs
  • The cost of education
  • Comprehensive medical attention

In the state of Texas, the child support payments that one divorced parent receives from the other are not limited to a specified set of expenses, which means that they can be used for almost anything the child requires. The main factors considered by the court when determining how much the child support payments should be include the income of the parent who needs to make the payments, the financial necessities of the child, and the amount of money that’s required to maintain the current standard of living for that child.
child support

Can Child Support Amounts Can Be Changed?

While the judge who is presiding over the divorce makes the decision about what the amount of child support is going to be, it’s possible for the parents to request that the amount be adjusted. In Texas and nearly every other state in this country, there are set guidelines to determine how much money will need to be paid by the parent who does not have custody of the child. However, if both parents agree on a number of conditions, they may have the ability to alter the recommended child support amount. This is much easier to accomplish during an uncontested divorce.

Child support payments are designed to begin immediately after the final judgment that dissolves the marriage. However, even after the final order has been made by the judge who is presiding over the divorce, the order may still be modified if necessary. Modifications are sometimes allowed due to changes in the financial situation of one parent or the other. If you have any issues receiving the child support payments to which you’re entitled or making the payments required of you, contact our firm to assess the circumstances.

How Our Family Law Attorneys Can Provide Assistance

Here at Steward Law PLLC, our child support attorney wants to make sure that the needs of our clients are met at all times. We’ll answer any questions you have about child support and how it pertains to your divorce. While child support and child custody are two of the primary issues that need to be resolved when obtaining either an uncontested or a contested divorce, this doesn’t means that these issues are always difficult to settle. With an experienced attorney by your side, you’ll know what to expect throughout the entire divorce process, and this includes negotiations about child support. Our attorneys can also help you identify approximately how much you should be receiving in child support payments so that you’ll have a clear idea of what to expect from the judge presiding over your case.

If you’re about to file for a divorce and you have questions about child support, call our office in Baytown, Texas, at (281) 420-8020 to speak with a family law attorney and obtain the assistance you require.

Major Changes to Texas Child Support in September 2018

Child Support Is Changing in Texas

The Texas Family Code includes several new changes that have gone into effect in 2018, including major changes to child support that will become active as of September 1, 2018. Learning about these changes can be important for single, divorcing, and divorced parents to understand future child support orders as well as determine the potential of modifying existing orders. These changes could make it much more difficult to seek modifications and discourage agreements that deviate from standard support amounts.

Child Support Before the 2018 Changes

In Texas, Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code determines the amount of child support that the noncustodial parent must pay the primary custodial parent each month. This amount is calculated according to monthly net income and the number of children the parent has. The largest potential child support obligation reaches up to 40 percent for cases that involve five or more kids. In addition, the support-paying parent must pay for the child’s medical coverage; this cost is deducted from the parent’s monthly income in order to calculate his or her cash child support obligation.
Custody of Minor Children

New Approaches to Child Support

As of September 1, the TFC will now require dental insurance to be handled by the noncustodial parent, much like health insurance. As is the case with health insurance, the premiums will be deducted from the parent’s monthly income before calculating the child support obligation.

However, the most significant change concerns child support modifications, particularly when both parents made their original agreement for an amount of child support that’s outside the guidelines provided in the TFC. Prior to the changes, there were three circumstances in which a child support order could be modified after an agreement outside of the provisions of the Texas Family Code:

  • When the child’s circumstances or the paying parent’s circumstances have materially and substantially changed since the original order
  • When the parties reached an agreement through mediation or collaborative law practice
  • When the monthly amount of child support would differ by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would have been applied under the TFC guidelines, within three years of the original order or most recent modification

However, under the changed guidelines, an original order outside the official state guidelines can only be modified on the grounds of a material and substantial change to circumstances for either the child or the paying parent.

Effects of Child Support Changes

Prior to these changes, parents who agreed to a child support payment outside the TFC’s formula may have expected to wait a short time before seeking a modification based on increased income if the support-paying parent had found greater career success. It’s possible and indeed expected for many people’s income to rise over the duration of their careers. In the past, all that was necessary to seek a modification was to show this income increase in the previous three years. Under the changed guidelines, the burden is far more substantial.

In addition, these changes may discourage parents from reaching agreements that deviate from the TFC guidelines as later modifications may be particularly difficult to obtain. Parents may be less likely to agree to any change that could inhibit their ability to modify the order in the future. This could also lead to fewer amicable divorces and a greater amount of conflict since the option of mediating a child support agreement outside the guidelines is no longer encouraged.

Contact Us

As the child support landscape changes in Texas, it’s important for single and divorcing parents to seek skilled family law assistance in their cases. The office of Stewart Law PLLC brings more than eight years of experience in family law to its clients. Call our office in Baytown at (281) 420-8020 or use our online contact form to email our family law attorney. Our initial consultation is a reduced fee of $50, and we accept credit card payments and payment plans.

Understanding the Best Interests of the Child in a Texas Family Law Dispute

Understanding the Best Interests of the Child in a Texas Family Law Dispute

In Texas, when there are unresolved legal issues as part of a divorce, and there are minor children who will be affected by the ways those controversies are settled, the courts are guided by the principle known as the “best interests of the child.” Accordingly, the court must give priority to an outcome that best serves the emotional, physical and mental needs of the child.

For example, when establishing conservatorship and access (formerly known as custody and visitation), the court may grant sole legal and physical conservatorship to one parent, or may confer joint legal and physical conservatorship to both parents. As a practical matter, the court always seeks to encourage participation and involvement by both parents in the growth and development of minor children, but may opt to limit one parent’s access if there has been physical abuse, substance abuse or other violations of the law.

best interests of the child

When determining the best interests of the child, the court will typically look at a number of factors, including:

  • The demonstrated ability of each parent to nurture and raise children
  • The stability of each parent’s home and work life
  • The future plans each parent may have for the child
  • The willingness of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • The child’s physical and emotional needs

In addition, if the child is more than 12 years of age, the court may factor in the child’s preferences.

Contact Us

At the family law office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. Our family law attorney offers an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Establishing Paternity in Texas

Establishing Paternity in Texas

Whether you are the “putative” father or the biological mother of a child either born out of wedlock or with disputed parentage in Texas, there can be significant reasons to either confirm or refute paternity. A determination of paternity essentially identifies who is (or is not) the legal father, and confers rights on both the legal father and the mother of the child. The father will have the opportunity to petition the court for reasonable visitation, and even custody, if circumstances warrant. The mother can use the establishment of paternity to obtain an order of child support. Establishing paternity in Texas requires the help of a family law attorney.

In Texas, there is a presumption that a child born to a married couple is the offspring of that couple. If the parties agree that they are the parents, paternity is automatically established. However, if the parties are not married at the birth of the child, or if there are allegations of marital infidelity, the child will have no legal father until paternity is determined.

Establishing Paternity in Texas

The Ways Paternity Can Be Determined in Texas

The Lone Star State allows paternity to be confirmed either voluntarily or involuntarily. If both parties agree on paternity, they can sign a document called an “Acknowledgement of Paternity.” Most hospitals carry the form. After it’s signed, it will be sent to the Vital Statistics Unit in Austin, and the legal father’s name will be listed on the birth certificate.

Involuntary determinations of paternity are always done through a court. Either party can file a “Petition to Adjudicate Parentage,” and the court will hold a hearing to gather evidence. If either party denies paternity (or is uncertain about paternity), the court can order DNA testing. If the court establishes paternity, it will issue an order adjudicating parentage, granting all rights as a legal father.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. Our family law attorney offers an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Modifying a Support Order in Texas

Modifying a Support Order in Texas

Change is a constant in life, and that applies in divorce as well. When your divorce is finalized, the court will carefully determine the amount of child support that needs to be paid. But circumstances may render that order ineffective. The payer may become unemployed or be forced to take a job with less pay. The needs of the child may increase. Fortunately, while it can be difficult to modify a child support order, they are not set in stone, and can be amended in certain situations. Contact a Baytown family law attorney for assistance with modifying a support order in Texas.

Either parent in a divorce can petition the court to change the amount of child support being paid. To qualify to modify the payment amount, however, the parent seeking the change must show that the circumstances of the child, or of either of the parents, has changed substantially since the support order was issued.

Support Order in Texas

If more than three years have elapsed since the current order was put in place, the party requesting a modification of the support order must demonstrate that the amount that would be ordered under current guidelines would different by a minimum of 20% or $100 from the amount initially ordered. Accordingly, a payer seeking a change must show a 20% reduction and a recipient must be able to show a 20% increase.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, our family law attorney brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support in Texas

Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support in Texas

If you are involved in a divorce in Texas and there are minor children involved, you need to understand your rights with respect to child support, whether you are the payer or the recipient. Our Baytown family law attorney answers some of the most common questions parents of divorce have with respect to the payment of child support in Texas.

How Is Child Support Calculated?

The first step in determining the amount of child support to be paid is to establish net income for the payer. Net income includes wages, salary, rental income, retirement income, disability income, commissions, tips, bonuses, dividends and interest and trust income. It can also include alimony from a previous marriage. The following expenses are then deducted from that total:

  • Social Security and federal income taxes
  • Union dues
  • Health insurance costs and medical expenses incurred for minor children

Once the net income is calculated, you multiply that number by a specific percentage, based on the number of children for whom support will be paid. For one child, it’s 20% of the net income, and it increases by 5% for each additional child, up to a maximum of 40%.

Child Support in Texas

How Long Does It Take Before Child Support Payments Start?

The amount of time it takes depends on a variety of factors. If the payer is employed and can be located, and you have a Social Security number, you can ask the court to issue an administrative withholding order. This goes directly to the payer’s employer, who then withholds the amount due from the payer’s wages and pays it directly to the state’s child support enforcement agency, or to a local registry, which then sends it to the custodial parent. Customarily, that will happen within two t0 four weeks. The child support order is retroactive to the date the divorce is filed, so it’s not unusual for a payer to start with an arrearage, which can typically be paid off over time.

If I Am Being Denied Visitation, Do I Still Have to Pay Support?

Absolutely! Under Texas law, support is not conditional on access to your children. If your ex is in violation of the court order regarding visitation, you need to file an enforcement action.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. Our family law attorney offers an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Common Mistakes When Dividing a Marital Estate

Common Mistakes When Dividing a Marital Estate

When your marriage ends, one of the most challenging jobs can be the division of the debts and assets of the marriage. In your rush to be over with the divorce, don’t make these common mistakes when dividing a marital estate. Contact a Baytown divorce lawyer for assistance.

Make Sure You Account for All Assets and Income

According to a recent study, nearly 20% of all divorces proceedings involve assets hidden by one of the parties. Take the time to make certain you know what’s out there.

Don’t Forget to Change Information on All Financial Accounts

There’s no benefit to keeping any joint accounts with your ex. In addition to bank accounts, you need to change credit cards, investment accounts and any debts/loans, including your mortgage. It’s also critical to change the beneficiary on life insurance policies, annuities, retirement accounts and investment portfolios.

Dividing a Marital Estate

Don’t Ignore the Tax Implications

One of the ways in which people commonly don’t end up getting a fair deal has to do with the potential tax consequences of owning certain property. Experts say it’s important to determine whether the dollars you are receiving are pre-tax or post-tax dollars. For example, if you take assets in an IRA in exchange for allowing your ex to keep the house, you will incur a tax obligation when you take distributions. However, your ex may incur no tax consequence upon the sale of the house, provided the net gain on the sale is below that allowed under the Internal Revenue Code.

Don’t Let Your Decisions Be Affected by Your Emotions

When you let your emotions take over, it’s hard to make rational decisions. It can be hard, but you have to view the financial aspects like a business transaction. In addition, don’t try to establish your own value for a house, or for personal property. Always get a professional to appraise marital assets at fair market value.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, our family law attorney brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Protecting Your Rights as a Single Mother—Paternity Disputes

Protecting Your Rights as a Single Mother—Paternity Disputes

As the unmarried mother of a minor child, it’s essential that you establish the paternity of your child. The father will have visitation rights, but will also have to provide some level of support, provided you are no longer living together. Paternity can also make your child eligible for a wide variety of benefits through the father of the child, including medical insurance, veteran’s benefits, Social Security and inheritance. Here are the ways to establish paternity in Texas while protecting your rights as a single mother. Contact a Baytown divorce lawyer for more information.

Establishing Paternity

Under Texas law, you can successfully have the father of your minor child legally designated three different ways, all of which will qualify you to receive support and other benefits. The accepted methods are:

  • Presumptive paternity—if you were married to the father or lived continuously with him for a period of time before the birth of the child, paternity will be presumed, though the alleged father may challenge paternity through DNA testing.
  • A voluntary acknowledgement of paternity—if the alleged father signs a legally binding document stating that he is the genetic father of the child, you then have the right to seek all benefits.
  • Paternity by court order—either the mother or the alleged father of the child may ask the court to establish paternity. Furthermore, a child may also ask the court to order paternity testing, provided he or she has reached a certain age.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 10 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn about our services, call us at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. Our family law attorney offers an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Relocating after Divorce in Texas

Relocating after Divorce in Texas

Often, in the aftermath of divorce, you want a change of scenery. However, there can be other reasons for seeking to relocate after a divorce—you may get a new job or a promotion, you may want to be closer to family, or there may be a specific benefit for your children. What are the restrictions, if any, on moving after a divorce, particularly when there are minor children involved? If you are relocating after divorce in Texas, contact a Baytown divorce lawyer for further assistance.

Under Texas law, as part of your divorce order, the court will set up a “managing conservatorship,” essentially what was formerly known as custody. As a general rule, the court prefers (and will establish) a joint managing conservatorship, consistent with the state’s stated objective of keeping both parents involved with the life and upbringing of the child. Achieving that objective can be complicated, though, even when both parents live in near each other. It becomes even more of a challenge when one of the parents wants to relocate.

Relocating after Divorce in Texas

You Must Get Permission from the Court

Almost universally, the court order in a Texas divorce prohibits the custodial parent (referred to as the “primary parent”) from relocating outside a certain area without first seeking and obtaining permission of the court. In most instances, permission must be sought if the custodial parent wants to move outside of any county contiguous with the county where the parties currently reside.

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Moving Forward after a Divorce

Moving Forward After a Divorce

In the aftermath of a divorce, you can be ready for a new life and a new direction. Here are some recommendations to help you put the past behind you and get on with your life. If you need help moving forward after a divorce, contact a Baytown family law attorney today.

Open New Financial Accounts

You should actually do this as soon as you know you are going to be a party to a divorce proceeding. Once you start putting your money into your own separate account, your ex won’t have access to it. You should also close any joint accounts you had during your marriage.

Close All Credit Card Accounts

Terminate any joint credit cards immediately and consider whether you want to open new accounts. Your finances may be unstable for a little while, so you may want to operate primarily on a cash basis until you have a greater sense of security and stability. In addition, divorce can be an emotional time—if you are prone to spending money in response to emotional trauma, you might be better served not opening a new credit card.

Moving Forward after a Divorce

Change Your Beneficiaries

If your ex is named as a beneficiary on any type of insurance policy, IRA, retirement plan or in a will, contact the provider and change the beneficiary immediately. With respect to insurance, you may want to obtain a life insurance policy on your ex (owned by your ex) to cover alimony or child support in the event of his or her premature death. In addition, if you have a will or trust, you want to meet with a lawyer to change the provisions.

Notify any Government Agencies

The IRS and the Social Security Administration should be notified of your divorce.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, our divorce attorney brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online . We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

 
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