Archive for February, 2019



  1. Prepare documents

First of all, you must get your documents in order. Documentation of marital finances will help you get a fair settlement. The papers you should gather and organize include:

  • Bank statements
  • Paystubs
  • Tax returns
  • Insurance policies
  • Investment accounts
  • Mortgages
  • Loans

You should also have a list of all your marital assets and debts. These documents will not only help you understand where you stand financially, but they will also assist your attorney, accountant and/or financial advisor in negotiations.

      2.  Create a financial plan

Without a clear financial plan in place, your divorce may lead to instability. Put a budget together and determine what you may need to do to remain financially secure after your divorce. Consider whether you need to get a job, go to school or receive vocational training.

      3.  Fight for alimony

If you are a stay-at-home mom, it is likely you will get primary or joint custody of your children. You will need to provide evidence you require spousal support payments from your ex to continue your previous lifestyle and provide stability for your kids. However, remember that even if you receive support payments, you will likely need a financial plan to cover some expenses.

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Texas law requires all parents to support their children with the necessities of life such as food, clothing, education, medical expenses and a place to live. After the parents’ relationship ends, a court orders the noncustodial parent to regularly pay child support to the primary support parent. Normally, this support is deducted from the obligor’s paycheck.

Support is limited to maintaining the child’s household and best interest. Noncustodial parents must also help assure that the child has healthcare coverage through private insurance, CHiPS or Medicaid. When a custodial parent has health insurance, the noncustodial parent has to provide reimbursement for that expense.

Guidelines dictate the parent’s support payments. Factors include the noncustodial parent’s income and the number of children from the recently-dissolved relationship and other relationships.

The noncustodial parent may deduct federal taxes, social security, union dues and the cost of the child’s health insurance from the parent’s gross pay. After these deductions, the court uses a child support formula calculated on a percentage of that parent’s net income. If net resources do not exceed $8,500 per month, the support ranges from 20 for one child to 40 percent for five children. The percentage increases by five percent for each additional child.

Where a parent has a monthly net income over $8,500, the court will use the percentage guidelines to the first $8,500 of that parent’s net resources for the month. Additional support may be ordered based upon the parents’ income and the child’s needs.

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In most child custody orders, the primary parent, otherwise known as the custodial parent, is given exclusive rights to establish residency of the child, though often restricted to a geographic area. A geographic restriction is an order from the court, whether included in a divorce decree, paternity decree, or an order in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship. Circumstances can change, which often necessitates modification of your court order. Lifting a geographical restriction is one example of a request for modification of a parent child relationship.

Reasons the courts may consider modifying the geographic restriction include:

• A job promotion or a career opportunity with more money, benefits or better work schedule;

• Education opportunities for the child;

• You only moved to Texas for your ex-spouse and your ex-spouse is not exercising their visitation;

• Connections to the new location (Have you lived there prior?);

• Family support in the new location and/or lack of family support in the designated geographic restricted area;

• Whether the other parent (non-primary parent) will still be able to enjoy meaningful access to the child (for example, through Facetime, video conferencing, email, etc.);

• Agreement of the parents to a allow the primary parent to relocate

Ultimately, the court will still consider the best interest of the child in making its final determination.

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Custody/Conservatorships are the rights and responsibilities of the parent toward the child. The parent who has custody of the child after a divorce is known as the conservator.

As with other states, if divorcing parents can come to a decision about a parenting plan, courts enforce that. But if they cannot, then courts decide the terms of the conservatorship according to the best interests of the children. There are two types of conservatorships, joint managing and sole managing conservatorship.

Texas has a presumption of joint managing conservatorship. This means that both parties share the rights and duties of parenting, even though there are certain rights that can be given to one of the parents exclusively. However, joint managing conservatorships do not mean equal child custody and visitation rights-those are decided separately in a visitation schedule.

In a sole managing conservatorship, only one parent is given the legal right to make decisions about the child. These decisions include the right to decide the child’s primary residence, giving consent to medical, dental, psychiatric and psychological treatment, receiving child support and making decisions regarding the child’s education.

If parents are unable to agree on the visitation schedule (known as possession of and access to a child), then the court will order a schedule based on the best interests of the child.

It is always better for parents to try to create a schedule or parenting plan that suits their needs and schedules-a court appointed plan may be difficult to implement. However, when it is not possible, courts can be presented with each side’s situation and a plan devised.

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In Texas, the required waiting period is 60 days, which means there must be 60 days between filing the petition for divorce and finalizing it. It’s rare that a case that actually gets finalized immediately after the end of the waiting period.

What goes into the length of the divorce process?

Many of my clients spend time working out emotional damage. They could be upset with their spouse for several reasons. They may not have wanted the divorce. The relationship could have not gone as expected. Outside of emotional factors, not all divorce proceedings are cut-and-dry. We must come to agreements or gather evidence to show what is fair and equitable. It could involve child custody agreements, finances, or property. If a case requires discovery, that takes time too.

For instance, one party may have been in control of the finances. If we can’t get the information we need, we’ll have to conduct discovery to get a clearer picture of the marital estate. It works the same way with a child custody case. We may need to do discovery or a child custody evaluation (social study). Social study investigators take an extensive look into the parties’ lifestyles, which often takes months to complete because they do home visits, sessions with the parents and children, and find out what loved ones and references have to say.

Organizing this information often motivates settlement at mediation and helps the judge streamline the evidence at trial.

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A courtroom or a judge’s chambers can be an intimidating place, which can add stress to an already tense divorce. The role of the judge is to make decisions and give orders.

Conversely, mediation occurs in a more comfortable setting, typically a conference room or lawyer’s office, and often with refreshments and private rooms available to regroup between negotiation sessions. The mediator is responsible for helping the parties find common ground and guiding you toward agreement on matters in dispute.

Why Parents Choose to Mediate:

  1. Reducing Costs
  2. Reducing Time
  3. Minimizing Stress

Even during this challenging experience, parents can typically agree that they want what is best for their children. In putting your children first, you may consider mediation to:

  • Foster cooperation. Divorce mediation establishes a cordial relationship and fosters cooperation in your children’s affairs that will carry forward in the years to come.
  • Create the best parenting plan. Texas offers a template parenting plan that the courts will generally follow if parents cannot agree. Instead of leaving this decision up to the courts, mediation allows you to come to an agreement that is most beneficial to all stakeholders.
  • Handle unique circumstances. You or your child may have unique needs that don’t fit squarely in a standard divorce judgment. Parents can work together during mediation to create solutions that are best for your child.

Reaching the Most Equitable Settlement Possible:

Ultimately, parties in mediation typically get more of what they want. Mediation allows you to fight for your priorities and concede on issues of lesser importance to you.

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Texas Child Support 101: What is Considered Net Income?

Texas Child Support 101: What is Considered Net Income?

To calculate current child support, courts must determine the amount of the obligor’s income available for support (“net resources”) and apply the child-support guidelines to the obligor’s net resources.

Child Support

 The purpose of child support is to help a custodial parent maintain an adequate standard of living for a child. A parent’s child support obligation is not limited to that parent’s ability to pay from current earnings, rather it extends to his or her financial ability to pay from any and all available sources.

Net Resources

 The Family code provides a list of about twenty-six sources of income that are to be considered when determining an obligor’s net resources. These include: (1) wages, (2) salaries, (3) commissions, (4) bonuses, (5) overtime, (6) tips, (7) interest, (8) dividends, (9) royalty income, (10) rental income, (11) severance pay, (12) retirement benefits, (13) pensions, (14) trust income, (15) annuities, (16) capital gains, (17) social security (excluding supp. income), (18) unemployment, (19) disability, (20) worker’s compensation, (21) interest on notes, (22) gifts, (23) prizes, (24) spousal maintenance, (25) alimony, and (26) self employment income.

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When a couple is going through a divorce or separation, the court will need to determine some sort of child custody arrangement for the children involved. When determining custody, Texas uses a standard that prioritizes the best interests of the child. There are many factors that play into the decision, including:

• the child’s age

• the mental and physical health of the child and the parents

• each parent’s lifestyle and habits

• the emotional bond present between the child and parents

• the parent’s ability to provide guidance to the child

• the parent’s ability to provide for the child in general, with food, clothing, etc

• the current living pattern of the child

• the impact that change may have on the child

Oftentimes, they can look at the quality of life that the child has with their community, education, religious institution, etc and determine if that should be preserved or changed. Also, if the child is above a certain age, their preference may be taken into consideration. The court will see if these factors lead to a favored parent or not and their decision will be made accordingly. Generally, parents will share the rights and duties of parenting the child, but they may not be shared equally. Joint custody is preferred because having both parents involved in the child’s life holds value. There are times; however, when one parent is deemed unfit and the other parent can receive sole custody.

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