CHILD CUSTODY AND CLAIMING THE CHILD ON YOUR TAXES


CHILD CUSTODY AND CLAIMING THE CHILD ON YOUR TAXES

When parents divorce, there are many concerns surrounding their children. One major issue is with whom the child will reside with and what the custody arrangement will look like.

Although it is important to address child support issues, it is also vital to understand how a custody plan could impact certain financial tasks such as filing taxes. Claiming a child on his or her taxes can be very beneficial, as it allows that parent to obtain an earned income credit and a child tax credit. Thus, divorced parents can often find themselves in a dispute over who gets to claim a child each year.

Only one parent can claim a single child as a tax dependent, which also means only one parent will reap the tax rewards while the other gets no benefits at all. In matters where there is a custodial parent or sole custody, that parent is able to claim that child each year as that child resides with just them. However, in joint custody situations, time is usually split evenly between parents, meaning the child or children live with both parents.

In a joint custody situation, divorce parents frequently alternate years for claiming a child or children on their taxes. This way each parent gets to enjoy these tax benefits every other year. In some cases, parents with multiple children will just split who they claim each year. For example, if the divorced couple has four children, each parent could claim the same two children each year.

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CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES: (What You Need to Know)

CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES: (What You Need to Know)

In Texas our child support determinations are made based on certain percentages of the paying parent’s net monthly income. The statutory law sets how much of a non-custodial parent’s net monthly income should go to the custodial parent for child support.

In Texas, these payments must continue to be paid until the child reaches 18 years of age or graduates from high school (whichever occurs later).

The Statutory Guidelines

Under the guidelines, a parent will pay the following percentage of their “net” monthly resources to the custodial parent:

• 20% of net income to support one child

• 25% of net income to support two children

• 30% of net income to support three children

• 35% of net income to support four children

• 40% of net income to provide for five children

• A minimum of 40% of net income for six or more children

Although the guidelines are presumed to be in the best interest of the children, this presumption may be rebutted in certain circumstances.

A party may offer evidence relating to the specific needs of a child. The amount of parenting time exercised by each party, or other case-specific factors which may warrant a deviation from the guideline. Such deviations may give the custodial parent access to a greater amount of support funds.

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HOW DO I GET TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER?

HOW DO I GET TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER?

HOW DO I GET TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER?

In Texas family law cases, there are two separate types of protective documents that parties can seek. Restraining orders are not to be confused with protective orders. Most often, parties seek a restraining order in a divorce or suit affecting the parent-child relationship to take exclusive possession of property or the children.

If a restraining order is needed, it is important to seek the restraining order from the very beginning of the case or at or near the time the need is realized. Restraining orders are typically sought when initial pleadings are filed and they are presented to the judge ex-parte (without the other party present). Your sworn affidavit will be attached to the pleadings for the restraining order and will contain all of the information for the judge as to why he/she should grant the restraining order.

The hearing will be set the same day the judge signs the order and it must occur within 14 days. Therefore, the court holds a quick hearing to allow the other party time to present their own case. It also gives you a chance to put on evidence and bolster your case as to why the judge made the right decision to grant the restraining order in the first place. At this hearing, you can request that the court continue the restraining order. Thought, often times, the court will not completely deny access to the children but rather grant supervised visitation by an appropriate supervisor.

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WHAT IS DIVORCE MEDIATION?

WHAT IS DIVORCE MEDIATION?

What does a divorce mediator do?

The divorce mediator is an impartial third party that will help the couple through the divorce process. The mediator will help them to make their own decisions about finances, property, and child arrangements. Participants enter mediation voluntarily and work out differences through negotiation and cooperation.

If we work the terms of our divorce out with a mediator, what happens next?

Once you have worked things out with the mediator, they will make a record of the couple’s decisions. This record will serve as an agreement between the spouses. You still need to go before a judge to make your divorce final, but having the terms worked out ahead of time through mediation will keep things moving smoothly.

What if we can’t work things out through mediation?

Mediation is helpful because it helps people figure out what they want before they go to court. Sometimes, spouses cannot come to an agreement, and the judge must make decisions. If you and your ex-spouse are having problems working things out through medication, then you may have to go to court and have a judge decide.

What are the advantages of mediation?

It encourages couples to cooperate and work together to find solutions. Mediation is better for the children involved. It cuts court costs and unnecessary time out of the equation. Mediation remains a confidential service, rather than airing the couple’s grievances in court.

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CONSIDERATIONS FOR CHILD AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT

When a couple gets divorced in Texas, one ex-spouse may be required to pay alimony and child support to the other. Both states and judges themselves differ on what factors they will consider when assigning the obligation amount, but income is always part of the calculation.

A court may consider deferred compensation or signing bonuses when determining a parent’s income. Lifestyle relative to income will also be taken into account. If the family appears to have a lifestyle that is above what would be expected given the income listed on tax returns, the court may look into the other potential means of support. Another consideration will be how to continue supporting children in this lifestyle.

If a parent is underemployed, a court may do a calculation based on what they could be earning. An example would be someone with an MBA who is working in retail. If the ex does not work outside the home but is given money from family, this might also be considered in assessing support amounts. Courts will look at averages over several years to reduce the likelihood of someone manipulating these numbers, but there may be situations in which timing the divorce can help. There might also be a provision for modifying support.

Some parents are required to carry life or disability insurance in the divorce settlement. This can help ensure that support payments will continue even if the paying spouse dies or is unable to work because of disability.

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HOW DO I INCREASE MY CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENT IN TEXAS?

HOW DO I INCREASE MY CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENT IN TEXAS?

Child support payments that the Texas court ordered may be helpful, but you may be feeling that the money does not stretch far enough to cover the necessities. However, if your circumstances or your ex’s have changed since your original support order, you may be wondering if you can request a modification of that order.

Why might I seek a child support modification?

It is common for a supporting partner to request modifications when he or she experiences a financial setback. If your ex-partner asks the court to reduce his or her payment amount, it may be related to job loss, a medical emergency or another situation that makes it difficult to meet the obligations of the order. However, it is not unusual for a custodial parent to seek an adjustment to the amount he or she receives each month for any of these or other reasons:

• You experience a financial hardship that makes it difficult to maintain the home where the child lives.

• Your child has unexpected or ongoing medical expenses.

• Your child requires educational services that would be an added cost to you.

• You are struggling with an increase in the normal cost of items or services you provide for your child with support funds.

• You learn that your ex-spouse has experienced a financial advantage, such as a raise, promotion or inheritance.

Your first step in seeking a modification is to obtain information about whether you are eligible.

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CAN I GET CHILD SUPPORT AFTER MY CHILD TURNS 18?

If In Texas, generally, parents are only legally obligated to support a child until the age of 18 or until he or she stops going to high school. However, there are circumstances in which this is not always the case.

According to Texas law, if the child is disabled for an indefinite period, it is possible for support to continue.

Court Ordered Support for a Disabled Child:

The court can potentially order one or both parents to provide support for a child for an indefinite amount of time if the court finds:

• The child, regardless if he or she is institutionalized, requires substantial personal supervision and care due to a mental or physical disability and will be unable to self-support

• A disability exists, or the cause of a disability is known to exist, on or before the child’s 18th birthday

How Much Child Support Will a Court Order?

To determine the amount that is to be paid after the child’s 18th birthday, the court will consider some of the following:

• Any of the child’s existing or future needs that relate to his or her mental or physical disability and the substantial care and personal supervision that is required for it

• Whether the parent currently pays or plans on paying for the care or supervision of the adult child or will provide care or personal supervision

• The financial resources that are available from both parents

• Other financial resources that are available for the care, support, and supervision.

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