Archive for September, 2019



One of the biggest fears that people have about divorce is that they will get caught up in a stressful and costly legal battle that goes on for years. In reality, such legal battles are rare. Here is some information about divorce timelines in Texas:

There Is A 60 Day Waiting Period:

Texas has a 60 day waiting period that begins when the Original Petition For Divorce is filed. The divorce can only be finalized once that period elapses. In other words, divorce will take a minimum of 61 days in Texas. Beyond that, the exact duration of the divorce will depend primarily on the number of issues in dispute.

Disputes Extend Divorces:

An uncontested divorce is one in which both spouses have agreed on all of the issues, from property division to child custody and visitation. These cases are often able to move through the system quickly, with the divorce being finalized in little more than 60 days.

A contested divorce is one in which there is one or more issue that still needs to be resolved. The time it takes to resolve these disputes depends a great deal on each spouse’s willingness to work toward an agreement. If an agreement can be reached through negotiation or by using a form of alternative dispute resolution like mediation, it can accelerate the divorce process. If an agreement cannot be reached and the case must go to trial, it can add time onto the process

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Do I have to wait three years to modify child support?

Child support, Texas Family Code Section 156.401 states that final orders can be modified if either (a) there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances for a party or the child after the order was entered; or (b) it has been three years since the order was last entered or modified AND the monthly amount either differs by 20% or $100 from the amount that it should be under the child support guidelines. So, it has been less than three years but something has happened that would require a change in child support then you can seek a modification.

For instance, did the parent paying child support get a new job after your orders were rendered and they are now making more money? Or, did the obligor lose their job and they are no longer making any money? Additional instances of material and substantial change in circumstances would also be (a) the obligor parent had another child that they are financially responsible for; (b) health insurance has changed (lost or new premiums); or (c) the children are now living with the obligor parent or another person.

Remember, if you can show a material and substantial change in circumstances, the court may consider a modification to your child support, regardless of the 3 years.

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There is no denying the fact that property division can be a contentious issues during the divorce process. While you have one idea of what should happen, your soon to be ex-spouse may have another.

Develop a comprehensive property division checklist

Issues involving assets and debt division are usually resolved through negotiation, but sometimes a dispute over these issues must be resolved through litigation. In either case, there are things you can do before then to put yourself in position to succeed. Most importantly, you need to create a comprehensive property division checklist.

As the name implies, this is nothing more than a list of the many assets that require division. You can break this down into four categories:

  • Personal property — These are items you typically keep in your home, including motor vehicles, furniture, electronics, collectibles, guns, clothing and home office equipment.
  • Real property — In addition to the family home, this can include rental properties, business property, a vacation home and undeveloped land.
  • Financial assets — Common financial assets include bank accounts, cash on hand, retirement accounts, pensions, life insurance cash value, stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
  • Business assets — These can include an ownership interest in a corporation, partnership, limited liability corporation of sole proprietorship. A professional degree also falls into this category.

Along with a property division checklist, make a list of the many debts that you share with the other individual. This can include but is not limited to credit cards, personal loans, student loans, car loans and mortgage. Debt division is every bit as important as asset division.

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How to Modify Child Support

How to Modify Child Support

How to Modify Child Support

The court will always apply the “best interest of the child” standard in any child support modification order, but given that threshold requirement, there are a number of ways to modify child support orders.

  • The parties can agree to modify the order.
  • A substantial change must have occurred for one of the parties to the original suit or to a child that the court has jurisdiction over.
  • Three years have elapsed since a judge signed the time the prior order and you want to revisit the order.

The Parties Agree to a Modification of Child Support

The path of least resistance is for the parties to come to an agreement on modifying the child support order. The Texas Family Code provides set standards for how child support payments are calculated. So even if you and your ex agree on the modifications, you need to be prepared to justify the new amounts if they deviate from those standards. Even if you agree among yourselves to a new child support amount, you still need to draft and present a modified order to the judge and it won’t go into effect unless and until the judge signs it.

You Show a Substantial Change in Circumstances

A substantial change in circumstances can refer to the child or a parent. For example, when it applies to a child that is covered by child support it refers to a change in what is needed to care for the child. A change could occur, for example, because of an increase in the child’s medical needs requiring additional support and care or less support and care.

When it comes to a change of circumstances of the parent paying child support, this commonly occurs when the parent’s financial situation is altered. For example the father who is paying child support may have lost his job or his income might otherwise have been lowered to the extent that he can no longer make the court ordered payments. On the other hand, if his income has gone up substantially, his ex-wife may seek to raise the child support payments due to a change in circumstances.

Applying the Three Year Rule

If three years have passed since the child support payment order you do not have to show a substantial change in circumstances to seek a modification of the order. As a general rule, if you are seeking to increase or lower the child support payments by a minor amount that is based on the Texas Code methods of calculating child support, the court will usually allow the change.

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In June the maximum amount of child support that can be ordered under the Texas Child Support Guideline will increase effective Sept. 1. This change in the law will, in effect, raise the amount of maximum child support under the Texas Child Support Guidelines from $1,710 per month to $1,840 per month for one child.

Those who are currently paying child support or receiving child support, or those who may be doing so soon, could be affected.

What is the Change?

Under the Texas Child Support Guidelines, child support is determined based on one’s net monthly resources, i.e., income received per month less specific enumerated deductions. Once one’s net monthly resources are calculated by the court, then a percentage is applied based upon the number of children before the court (i.e., 20% for one child, 25% for two children, 30% for three children, etc.). However, the Texas Child Support Guidelines provide a “cap” on the amount of net monthly resources that can be used to calculate child support.

This “cap” means that no matter how much one person may make in net monthly resources each month, the Texas Family Code limits or caps that amount which, in turn, limits or caps the amount of child support one has to pay. Currently, that “cap” is set at $8,550.00 in net monthly resources, but it will increase to $9,200.00 on Sept. 1. This change in the law has the effect of increasing the amount of maximum child support under the Texas Child Support Guidelines for one child from $1,710.00 to $1,840.00 (i.e., 20% of $8,550.00 versus 20% of $9,200.00).

The Texas Family Code does allow one to request an amount of child support that deviates from the amounts as calculated by the Texas Child Support Guidelines (i.e., “above-guideline child support”), but those are typically rare circumstances.

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