Archive for October, 2018



Many divorcing parents feel they should be entitled to see their children at least half of the time. Most of them are surprised when I tell them this is not necessarily the case.Courts determine parents’ possession schedules based on what they feel is in the best interests of the children. In other words, you do not (and should not) get a 50/50 possession schedule just because you want it.

Why do you want 50/50?

Many people want a 50/50 possession schedule because they think they will not be ordered to pay child support. Even if the parents see the children equally, a court may still make a parent pay child support. Especially if there is a significant disparity in income between the parents.

Additional Factors the Court will Consider:

1. How well do you and your ex get along?
To make a 50/50 possession schedule work, the parents will often have to set their conflict aside for the sake of the children. If they are not able to do that, the schedule may not work.

2. How far apart do you and your ex live?
The closer, the better. If both parents live in the same school district, the transitions will probably be easier.

3. What are the kids’ schedules?
The kids’ schedules are also a factor in whether 50/50 works. The more activities a child is involved in, the harder the 50/50 possession schedule becomes.

4. What kind of 50/50 possession schedule works best?
The most popular 50/50 possession schedules are week-on, week-off.

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For the following guidelines, it is assumed that the monthly net resources for the supporting (non-custodial) parent are $8,550 or less. In these cases, the presumptive schedule of payments set by the court is as follows:

• One child, the child support payments will make up 20% of the supporting parent’s net income.
• Two children, the child support payments will make up 25% of the supporting parent’s net income.
• Three children, the child support payments will make up 30% of the supporting parent’s net income.
• Four children, the child support payments will make up 35% of the supporting parent’s net income.
• Five children, the child support payments will make up 40% of the supporting parent’s net income.
• Six or more children, then the child support payments will make up 40% or more of the supporting parent’s net income.

Exceptions to the Rules

There are several exceptions to the above guidelines. For instance, if the non-custodial parent has children from an additional relationship, these percentages may be reduced to accommodate children from both relationships.

Additionally, if the network resources for the non-custodial parent exceeds the assumed $8,550, the court may request additional child support payments depending on his or her monthly earnings. However, the court is not legally allowed to demand that the non-custodial parent pay more than an amount that is equal to 100 percent of the child’s proven needs or the presumptive amount.

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Holiday Custody Arrangements for Divorcing Parents

Holiday Custody Arrangements for Divorcing Parents

Family courts become busier around the holidays due to disputes regarding which parent the children spend time with during the season. To avoid circular arguments about promised holiday custody agreements, it is best to get both parents to agree on an arrangement in writing.

Holiday parenting negotiations often involve agreements in which the children may spend Thanksgiving with one parent and Christmas with the other, then alternate the following year. Alternating year arrangements also make it possible for one parent to spend Christmas Eve with the children and another Christmas Day. Split time arrangements are viable for parents who maintain strong communication with each other. These agreements allow children to enjoy the holiday with both parents and are ideal for parents who live close to each other.

Some parents choose to change the date on which they celebrate a holiday. While most parents want to spend the specific day of a holiday with their children, custody arrangements  where one parent celebrates the holiday before or after its official date are often successful. Flexibility makes it easier to avoid frustration over holiday visitation rights. Negotiation of any parenting plan requires a willingness to compromise.

Child custody is a difficult legal matter for most parents at any time of year, but the holidays often present special challenges. Drafting a custody agreement that is fair and takes the interests of the child into account. Obtaining a holiday custody arrangement in writing can help prevent disputes in the future.

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What are the Grounds for Divorce in Texas

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Texas

When filing for divorce, one needs to file a document to start the process, the Original Petition for Divorce.  The Original Petition for Divorce must include several things according to the Texas Family Code.  One of the elements that must be included is the “why” the court may grant a divorce.  The “why” is a reason or the grounds for the divorce and the basis for a court’s decision to grant a divorce.

There are two types of grounds for divorce in Texas. One type is “no-fault” and the other is “fault”.  More specifically, the “no-fault” divorce is what we call insupportability.  Basically, one pleads or contains in their pleadings, the assertion that the marriage has become insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities to such an extent that the marital relationship is destroyed, and any reasonable expectations of reconciliation are prevented.  This allows the court to grant the divorce without finding fault on the part of either party to the divorce.  The court doesn’t require any testimony about wrong doing or personal, factual issues.  The petitioner doesn’t have the burden to prove anything else.

The other type of grounds for divorce in Texas are fact specific.  Those grounds are fault grounds and include cruelty, adultery, conviction of felony, abandonment, living apart, confinement in a mental hospital.  Each of these grounds requires evidence by testimony or otherwise and proof of specific things.  Sufficient proof of these grounds give the court discretion to grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other is found to have committed the “fault”.  There are a few things that are important to remember about pleading and proving “fault” grounds. One very important part of that is the fact that the testimony or other evidence that is required will forever alter your relationship with the other spouse and possibly your extended family and children as well.  And, your pleadings, and most of the time any testimony, will also be public.  Do you want your private life available for reading by the public?  And, depending on what fault ground you are pursuing there may not be any advantage to you to plead the fault grounds.



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How do I get ready for my divorce?

How do I get ready for my divorce?

Rarely do married couples get “quick” divorces. There are many reasons for this, such as the legal requirements of the state. But also, divorce is often a complex matter, the details of which take time to negotiate and finalize. Moreover, even if you are more than ready to end your marriage, you are better served by taking careful steps to prepare for the next phase of your life.

So what measures can you take to better situate yourself post-divorce?

Well, one basic thing to do is to start putting money aside. You need to separate your finances from your spouse’s, so it is a good idea to open a checking and savings account in your own name and start to build a nest egg that could help cover your expenses for the next year. You also want to extricate yourself from any credit accounts that you share with your spouse. If possible, you should get your spouse’s name removed from any such accounts. If you have a joint credit account, you may need to resort to freezing the cards. This way your spouse cannot run up debts that you will be partially responsible for.

And to prepare for your settlement negotiations, you can start to gather up all the documents related to your finances, such as deeds, tax returns, bank statements and investment statements. These documents could be more difficult to get a hold of once the divorce process starts, so it’s best to get them in hand as soon as possible.

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In most cases, the normal duration of child support is until the child turns 18 or graduates high school (whichever occurs later). Once your child is 18 or has graduated high school, you will no longer receive child support payments. However, there are a few important exceptions to this rule.

If you have a child who has a disability that is known of before or on their 18th birthday, the child is eligible to receive extended child support. This extension of the responsibility period is due to medical bills and long-term care needs that your child may have. In cases of disability, a parent may be able to receive child support for a beyond the age of 18, and possibly for the child’s lifetime. However, if at any point the child is able to manage finances and take care of him or herself, child support will cease after the age of 18, even if there is a mental or physical disability. These are case-by-case matters and will be determined by the court.

If your child is eligible to receive support beyond the age of 18 or graduation from high school, either you or your partner will need to provide health insurance for your child. This is required by law to ensure he or she receives proper medical care. The court will decide who will bear the cost of the medical insurance for the child. The court will look at any available employer-sponsored insurance to see if the cost is reasonable, and that the policy provides quality coverage.

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DIVORCE: Contested v. Uncontested

You may have heard of the terms uncontested and contested divorce but are not sure of what they mean and how they apply to you. Understanding the difference between the two can help you determine which approach is best for your situation.

This decision is important because it can save you precious time and money. You do not want to drag out your divorce any longer than necessary or spend more than you have to.

Uncontested divorce

Contrary to how it may sound, an uncontested divorce is not one in which you simply both agree to divorce. That is the first step but not the most important one. An uncontested divorce entails you and your spouse agreeing on every aspect of the divorce, from child custody to property division to spousal support. If you have an amicable and cooperative relationship with your soon-to-be ex, then this may work for you. If you are unsure you will agree on everything but can still work together, you can try mediation instead.

Contested divorce

A contested divorce means that you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement concerning one or more terms of the divorce. However, it does not necessarily mean that you two are hostile and have to battle in court. You can try mediation or negotiation. Litigation may be necessary, but it can be free of the drama and intense emotions so often found in high-conflict divorces. If you and your spouse take the time to discuss how to handle these issues, you can avoid court as much as possible and speed up the process.

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What is Joint Conservatorship (Custody)?

Joint custody is the legal right for both parents to live with and make decisions about their child. This custody option often requires both parents to make discuss decisions and come to an agreement about issues like where their children go to school. Joint custody is an alternative to sole custody. Sole custody is granted to only one parent. They may decide where the child lives and/or how they are raised depending on the type of custody arrangement they have.The other parent receives visitation right. Visitation allows the other parent to spend time with their child. It may be supervised or unsupervised. Supervised visitation means a third party watches the parent and child interact. Abuse or neglect is usually the reason for supervised visitations.

Joint Custody Has Two Options:

Joint custody is separated into two legal rights: legal and physical joint custody. A legal joint conservatorship allows both parents to make decisions about how their child is raised. Parents can decided where their child attends school and what type of medical care the child receives. Joint physical conservatorship focuses on where the child lives. Joint custody gives each parent 50 percent custody rights. This means the parents must agree on when the child lives with each parent.

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How Much Will I Pay in Child Support?

Texas Family Code 154.125 provides the chart on child support guidelines and it is as follows:


1 child 20% of Obligor’s Net Resources

2 children 25% of Obligor’s Net Resources

3 children 30% of Obligor’s Net Resources

4 children 35% of Obligor’s Net Resources

5 children 40% of Obligor’s Net Resources

6+ children Not less than the amount for 5 children

The cap for child support was recently increased on September 1, 2013 from $7500 to $8550. This is the new child support cap for application of the percentages to monthly net resources. Therefore, this is not an increase completely; it only applies to those who have a gross monthly income of approximately between $10,000 and $11,000.00.

How Long Will I Pay Child Support?

Texas Family Code Section 154.001 provides the requirements of how long one must pay child support. Generally, most fathers pay child support until the child emancipates which means they turn 18 or graduate high school, whichever occurs later. Therefore, if your child is 18 but still enrolled in high school, then you can be ordered to continue paying support until graduation month. However, if you have a child who is disabled, you could potentially pay support for as long as that disability persists.

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