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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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Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

If you are involved in or considering a divorce in Texas and there are minor children involved, you need to get familiar with this term—joint managing conservatorship. It may sound daunting, but it’s something with which you are probably already very familiar—it’s the new language used in Texas to refer to custody of minor children. Our Baytown family law attorney can answer any questions about joint managing conservatorships in Texas.

Here’s how it works. In Texas, a parent who is awarded primary custody of minor children is referred to as the “sole managing conservator.” The other parent is called the “possessory conservator.” If the parents are granted joint custody, the relationship is known as a “joint managing conservatorship.” As a general rule, Texas considers a joint managing conservatorship to be in the “best interests of the child,” the standard for such decisions.

Conservatorships in Texas

How Does the Court Determine Managing Conservatorship?

As indicated above, the presumption is that a joint managing conservatorship will be best for any minor children. In fact, a court can (and often does) appoint both parents as joint managing conservators, even if the parties have not agreed to that arrangement.

It’s important to understand, though, that a joint managing conservatorship does not necessarily mean equal access or physical possession of a child. The court has discretion to grant one parent more time or access, based on a number of factors, including:

  • The ability of the parties to reach shared decisions that are in the best interests of the child
  • Whether or not there’s a positive relationship between the parents, or between the children and the parents
  • Whether the psychological, physical and emotional needs of the child will be met by the specific arrangement
  • The geographic proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The preference of the child, if the child is 12 years of age or older

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.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

If you are involved in or considering a divorce in Texas and there are minor children involved, you need to get familiar with this term—joint managing conservatorship.

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. 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

The Different Types of Divorce in Texas

Different Types of Divorce in Texas

Though, as we informed you in an earlier blog, a Texas legislator has introduced a bill that would end “no-fault” divorce in Texas, there are still two approaches you can take in the Lone Star State: you can state a specific basis, or ground, for the divorce (an “at-fault” divorce); or you can simply allege that the marriage has become “insupportable” (what is known as “no-fault divorce”). There can be good reasons for identifying specific grounds for your divorce—you can benefit in a custody or support proceeding if you can show that your ex caused the split. Contact a divorce attorney to understand the different types of divorce in Texas.

Here are the grounds that are currently accepted for divorce in Texas:

  • Marital infidelity—Adultery, or cheating on your spouse, is far and away the most common ground stated for divorce in Texas. However, you have to do more than simply allege infidelity—you must convince the court that your spouse had an extramarital affair.
  • Failure to cohabitate—If you have stopped living with your spouse, even if you are in continual relationship with him or her, and the two of you have lived apart for at least three years, you can allege that as a basis for an at-fault divorce.
  • Abandonment—If you cease having any type of relationship with your spouse, and that abandonment continues for at least a year, your spouse can state that as a cause for divorce
  • Confinement in a mental institution—If, at the time the divorce complaint was filed, one of the parties was institutionalized in a mental hospital or facility, either private or state-operated, and there was no prognosis for improvement or recovery, you may be able to state that as a reason for divorce. However, a person must be institutionalized for at least three years before the other spouse can allege it as sufficient cause for divorce.
  • Incarceration for a felony—If a spouse has been convicted and incarcerated for more than one year on felony charges, the innocent spouse may use that as a basis for an at-fault divorce.
  • Cruelty—Physical or mental cruelty that makes it unbearable to live with a spouse will also be grounds for divorce.

Different Types of Divorce in Texas

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 a divorce attorney 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

Proposed Bills Would Increase Cost of Texas Divorce, Impact Privacy

The Cost of Texas Divorce

Two changes to Texas divorce law proposed by Republican Matt Krause would significantly increase the time and cost involved in a divorce, and would have a devastating impact on the privacy of individuals involved in divorce proceedings. Krause has filed SB 93, which would eliminate “insupportability” as a legal cause for divorce in Texas, effectively doing away with no-fault divorce in Texas. The other proposed statute, HB 65, would extend the current 60 day waiting period to 180 days for couples with minor children. If you need help, contact a Baytown family law attorney about the cost of Texas divorce.

Under the current law in Texas, a party seeking divorce must provide a reason, but can cite “insupportability” as the cause, essentially saying that the bonds of marriage have been broken and the differences are irreconcilable. If Krause’s proposed law is adopted, that option will no longer be available and parties will have to cite one of the following reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment for a minimum of one year
  • Failure to cohabitate for at least three years
  • Commitment to a mental hospital
  • Cruelty
  • Conviction of a felony

Cost of Texas Divorce

Warren Cole, president-elect of the Texas Family Law Foundation, says the proposed statute, if enacted, would necessarily lead to significant increases in the cost of a divorce, as parties would have to spend money to prove adultery, abandonment or one of the other causes. He says that simply making it harder for people to get a divorce doesn’t get at the issue of whether or not the marriage is working, and that forcing parties to stay in an unhealthy relationship because they can’t afford a divorce serves no meaningful purpose. He also notes that parties who cite insupportability often do so to avoid publicly accusing a spouse of infidelity. If the law passes, he says, all that dirty laundry will have to be a matter of public record.

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.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Grounds for Divorce in Texas

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What Are Grounds for Divorce in Texas?

Texas now recognizes “no-fault” divorce, so it’s no longer necessary, to finalize the end of your marriage, that you identify the “grounds” upon which the divorce is based. However, you can still file an “at-fault” divorce complaint in Texas, and may use proof of fault to gain advantage in custody, support and property disputes. Here are the acceptable grounds for filing an “at-fault” divorce in Texas:

  • Adultery-If your spouse engaged in an extra-marital affair, with a person of either gender, it will be grounds for divorce
  • You have lived separate and apart for at least three years-Texas essentially considers the marriage ended if you have not cohabitated for three years and there’s no known intention for you to live together again
  • You abandoned your spouse—If you have not been in contact with your spouse for at least one calendar year, your spouse can use that as grounds for divorce
  • Mental cruelty—If one spouse engages in a degree of mental abuse or cruelty that makes it impossible for the parties to live together, the other spouse may seek an at-fault divorce
  • Conviction of a felony-You can seek an at-fault divorce if your spouse is convicted of and imprisoned on a felony charge, unless you testified against your spouse.
  • Confinement in a mental institution for at least three years-When one spouse is committed to a mental facility with no prospects of improvement, it will be grounds for divorce

Contact Us

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

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 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

The Process for Filing for Divorce in Texas

Filing for Divorce

Filing for Divorce in Texas

If you are considering filing for divorce in Texas, you may not know where to start or what steps you’ll have to take to complete the process. Here’s an overview of what you need to do.

  • Determine whether you meet the residency requirements—To obtain a divorce in Texas, at least one of the parties must have been a Texas resident for a minimum of six months immediately before filing. You must also be a resident of the county in which you file for the 90 days immediately prior to the filing.
  • Decide if you will state specific grounds—In Texas, you can allege “insupportability” as the basis for a divorce. This is essentially an assertion that neither party was at fault. Otherwise, you must allege one of the six acceptable grounds for at-fault divorce in Texas.
  • File your complaint and meet the requirements for notifying your spouse—There are specific documents you must file to initiate a divorce. It’s best to have an attorney do this for you. You’ll also need to “serve” your spouse with a copy of the divorce complaint. There are also specific rules regarding how this may and must be done.
  • Respond to the complaint—If you are the defendant in the divorce proceedings and you disagree with anything stated in the complaint, you’ll have a certain time period during which you may respond and challenge those assertions. This is known as a “contested” divorce. If you don’t respond, it’s considered an “uncontested” divorce and the court will most likely enter a default judgment.
  • Resolve issues related to custody and visitation, support and property division—If you can’t agree on any of these issues, you will need to schedule hearings with the court to obtain orders resolving any disputes.
  • Obtain a signed divorce decree—Once all issues have been resolved, the terms will be put in a written agreement and signed by the judge. The terms of the agreement are binding and can be enforced in a court of law. Once the judge signs the order, your divorce is final.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, our Baytown 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.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Attorneys Expect to See Spike in Divorce Filings in January

Attorneys Expect to See Spike in Divorce

Divorce Filings Spike in January

It’s a trend with which most family law attorneys are familiar—the number of divorce filings traditionally goes up dramatically in January and February. Attorneys say clients give them a variety reasons for the surge of divorce complaints after the holidays—

  • Many see it as a sort of “New Years Resolution”—the start of a new year is often perceived as an opportunity to “reboot,” so to speak. A person who has been in a troubled relationship may see it as the motivation needed to start over again.
  • The holidays are out of the way—For many couples, especially those with children at home, there’s a stigma about separation or divorce at the holidays. Couples fear that making the decision at or before Christmas will ruin their child’s holiday, and/or that it will create a permanent sense of loss—that the child will always look at Christmas as the time when “mom and dad broke up.”
  • Others say that the additional time spent with spouses at the holidays—either in festivities or because of time off from work—made it clear that the marriage was over.

Psychologists agree—they say that many of their clients have extreme anxiety about initiating a divorce or separation over the holidays, but are generally ready to move on when January rolls around.

There can, however, be practical reasons for putting off a divorce until January. If your spouse is in line for a year-end bonus, you may want to wait until that’s paid, so that there’s no question that it’s part of the marital estate. In addition, there can be tax advantages to being able to file “married, filing jointly.”

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, our Baytown 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.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Texas Legislator Seeks to End No Fault Divorce in State

No-Fault-Divorce

For more than 30 years, Texas has allowed couples to end a marriage simply by citing the grounds of “insupportability,” the state’s version of “no-fault” divorce. But that option will go away if a Fort Worth legislator is successful with proposed legislation.

Representative Matt Krause, a Republican from Fort Worth, says he will introduce a bill this year that will remove insupportability from the accepted grounds for dissolving a marriage in Texas. Krause says that he believes the provision makes it too easy for people to file for divorce and that easy divorces have weakened families and family values in Texas and across the country. He believes his proposed law will “reinforce the sanctity of marriage,” compelling people to think harder before they get into a relationship and to work harder when they face challenges.

Under current Texas law, “insupportability” is one of seven grounds that may be stated for obtaining a divorce. The others are:

  • Abandonment by one of the parties for at least one year
  • Living separately for a minimum of three years
  • Adultery by one of the parties
  • Conviction of a felony by one of the parties
  • Commitment to a mental hospital by one of the parties

Cruelty by one spouse toward the other

Krause’s proposed law has met with considerable resistance across the state. Many legal professionals say it will make it much more difficult for poorer people to have access to the courts, as it will likely be necessary for any  party to a divorce to hire an attorney—not always necessary when a divorce is uncontested. Others say that it will force the public disclosure of what are often private, and painful, facts. For example, a party need not disclose adultery under the current law, but would have to do so if the “insupportability” option is eliminated.

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. 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

Strategies for a Different Life after Divorce

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For many people, the period of time after a divorce is one of great change, often full of activity. There can be a lot of reasons for that. It may be a way to distract yourself from the painful emotions that come with divorce. You may feel a tremendous sense of freedom and a desire to do things you haven’t done for years. But if you want to ensure that you won’t be back in the same situation in a few years, there are some steps you should take, to help you move toward a happy and productive life.

  • Face your grief-Regardless of how difficult your marriage was, you have still lost something. Be willing to take the time to both acknowledge and feel your loss. That’s best done by yourself or with familyanyone with whom you won’t be tempted to develop an intimate relationship, as you may (subconsciously, perhaps) try to fill the void left by your ex-spouse.
  • Keep it simple—It can be tempting to pack it all in, sell everything and move to Tahiti. But that’s probably not in your best interests. It’s a good thing to minimize the distractions in your life, so that you can get a strong sense of who you are and what you want to do with the rest of your life. Be confident in yourself before you make any major changes.
  • Let the past go—It’s easier said than done, but the reality is that you can’t change it. You can, however, choose how much it will limit you, how much it will define you. Don’t ignore it, but learn from it, rather than being controlled by it
  • Be willing to trust—Trust can be hard in the aftermath of a divorce, but it’s ultimately a choice and a two-way street. When you can’t trust others, they’ll have a hard time trusting you. Life is about risks-but learn from your choices.
  • Seek professional help when necessary

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) 420-8020 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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