Texas Child Support And Filing Your Taxes
As tax season rolls around again, how to handle child support payments can be a confusing matter. One of the main questions that parents of a child under a custody order have is who can claim the child for a tax exemption. As with most other family law issues, there is not one answer that applies to every situation.
Your custody or child support order should have specific instructions as to which parent is allowed to claim the child for tax purposes. In cases where there is more than one child involved, the courts sometimes allow each parent to claim a child. It’s very important that you know what your court order specifies as you can have issues with your taxes if either you or your ex claims the wrong child or claims a child incorrectly.
In the majority of cases involving sole custody, the custodial parent is the one who claims that child on their taxes. This is because the courts generally assume the custodial parent is the one providing more than half of the financial support of the child. However, in cases where the noncustodial parent is paying child support, it may be possible for that parent to be given one of the tax exemptions.
How Social Media Can Affect Your Divorce Case.
You have probably heard about how many employers in Texas and around the country now look at the social media accounts of job applicants. Well, in family law cases, lawyers do the same thing. If your wife’s or husband’s lawyer is doing a good job, you can bet that he or she will be scrutinizing your social media posts to see if there is something that could be used to weaken your position.
*Think Like A Judge*
What you think of as a throw-away post or harmless comment that doesn’t mean much could mean a lot to a judge. In fact, when going through a divorce or custody case, a good rule of thumb is this: before you post, ask yourself what the judge might think. Here are a few things a judge might think about, which means you should think about them, too:
• Would your post show impulsiveness or poor judgment?
• Is it wise to post pictures of yourself out at a bar or party?
• If you’re asking for custody of your children, would it make sense to post about how hard it can be to be a parent?
• Is it a good idea to post photos of you and your date before the divorce is finalized?
• Does your post reflect irresponsibility in any way?
Whether you’re upset or thrilled, always take a few minutes to think before you post anything on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or anywhere else. Try to post only positive messages and things that put you in a good light.
Family law courts have mostly moved away from awarding one parent in a divorce sole or full custody of a child. While the importance of both parents spending equal amounts of time with their children is recognized, exceptions do exist. If you are going through a divorce in which you believe joint or shared custody would jeopardize your child’s best interests, you are entitled to petition the court for sole custody.
Reasons For Seeking Sole Custody
The family court will require a formal request stating the reasons you are seeking fill custody before it will make a ruling. Here are four of the most frequently cited reasons:
1. Unfit Parent — The state of Texas will have its own legal definition of unfit parents, which typically include neglect, abuse, substance dependency, mental illness or others. If a court declares your ex-spouse as unfit, the judge will determine the level of the threat and decide whether the child and that parent may continue to have a relationship.
2. Absent Parent – A court will evaluate particular circumstances to determine if your ex was an absent parent. Your child living with you is not enough for the other parent to be considered absent, and even your ex’s failure to pay child support may not be a sufficient enough. The court will typically want evidence of failed attempts to locate or contact the absent parent. If the other parent tries to reestablish contact after the awarding of sole custody, the court may reconsider.
3. Fighting Parents — If the relationship between you and your former spouse has deteriorated to a level that is bitter and hateful, and that behavior, such as extreme badmouthing, will be detrimental to the well-being of the child, you might be awarded sole custody.
4. Child’s Choice — A judge may consider the preferences of your child — depending on his or her age and level of maturity. However, the child’s wishes will not be enough to let the judge award sole custody. Any of the above reasons to file a petition for sole custody that exist may also motivate your child’s wishes, in which case the court may use that as additional evidence.
What is the Maximum Amount of Child Support That Can Be Ordered?
What are the Statutory Guidelines?
When the person being ordered to pay child support’s monthly resources are less than $8,550 a month there are presumptive amounts of child support set out in the family code and the court has the discretion to look at multiple factors in deciding how much child support should be paid. In general, the maximum amount in the code for someone making less than $8,550, without factoring in any special needs of the child or any of the other factors, is $1,710.
When the person being ordered to pay child support makes more than $8,550 the statute states that the court should presumptively apply the child support percentage amount to the amount that doesn’t exceed $8,550. Basically, it is presumed that you shouldn’t be paying more than $1,710 a month in child support for one child no matter how much money you make.
However, the statute goes on to allow the court to take into account the income of the parties and the proven needs of the child to set an amount above the $1,710 a month but this amount is not supposed to be higher than the amount of the proven needs of the child. The court has discretion to allocate the amounts to be paid into the “proven needs” of the child to each party in the Child Support case as long as they don’t order more than 100% of the proven needs of the child to be paid.
Child Custody – The Child’s Best Interest
“In the child’s best interest” is a common term used in child custody cases. The default presumption in Texas courts is that joint managing conservatorship will be the best interest of the child(ren). This means that both parents share equally in important decisions such as health and education.
The court will rule in favor of what they consider to be the best interests of the child. There are many factors and evidence presented that influence the court’s conclusion of the child best interest. All of which will affect the issues of custody, child support and visitation.
Health, safety, care, emotional needs, and siblings are all factors taken into consideration. In Texas, financial responsibility in taken into account. The court considers education, stability and medical care. In some cases, the parent who can best provide for their child are granted custody.
Standard Possession Order
Standard possession order will be likely granted by the court when parents like within 100 miles of each other. This means that one parent is given physical custody of the child(ren) and the other is given visitation. Holidays are typically divided between the parent with visitation and the other parent. The parent with visitation will receive two weekends a month with the children, two hours per week during the school year and one month during the summer.
What does “Full Custody” really mean?
The Texas Family Code addresses custody of a child in three different ways: (1) whether a parent has the ability to make decisions related to the child, (2) when each parent has the right to possession of the child, and (3) child support and medical support for the child.
To some parents, “full custody” means the first item on the list: making decisions for the child, including designating where the child lives most of the time (which also usually determines where the child will go to school), being able to consent to invasive medical, dental or surgical treatment for the child, and making educational decisions related to the child.
For this parent, who wants to make all of these decisions and to not let the other parent be able to make these types of decisions, “full custody” means being appointed the sole managing conservator of the child. A sole managing conservator is the person who has the exclusive ability to make decisions related to the child, absent life-threatening and emergency circumstances.
Modifying to “Full Custody”
When a prior custody arrangement is no longer working, a parent can ask the court to modify the previous orders.
Generally, a suit to modify requires two things: (1) a material and substantial change in circumstances of one of the parties affected by the order or the child, and (2) that the requested modifications are in the child’s best interest.