Texas Fathers and Child Custody Cases – Time for Modifications or a Change?

The New Year is always a good time for personal changes and after another stressful Holiday Season with your kids and Ex, you have decided to make some serious changes in your child custody situation to stabilize the entire family. Mom is not helping and the children are seriously acting out.  What to do? What to do?

Maybe it is time to look at changing your child custody status with the children or at least modifying the current orders. Many changes have occurred in American Family Behavior and fathers are taking a more active role in their children’s lives.  The Pew Research Center has recently published some new research on today’s fathers with some important and surprising changes:

  • Fewer dads are the family’s sole breadwinner: dual income households are now the dominant arrangement (60%). Both mom and father must now be responsible for child raising and home chores.

  • Dad and mom roles are converging: fathers have taken on more housework and child care duties and moms have increased time spent at a paid job. There is definitely a more equal distribution of labor between mother and fathers in today’s world.

  • Fathers feel they spend more or as much time with their children as their fathers did when they were children

With the latest scientific research showing that a father’s involvement is essential to a child’s social, moral, and physical growth during the adolescent period, many state legislatures and family courts are now recognizing a father’s ability to care for his children as equal to the mother.  Courts are also looking at the more stable parent, who may have a better income and parenting plan in place for the child and is capable of providing a better home life and more quality time with the child.

Another reason for changing opinions regarding fathers’ rights child custody issues has been the high divorce rates and the affect it has had on the USA population life experiences.  Many adults have been raised in a divorced home with Mom as the main custodial parent. Now these adults are divorcing they want a different and better experience for their own children and their lives.

Things you want to consider as you prepare for your child custody battle are:

  1. Who has the financial ability to best care for the child (ren)? Be sure to have income tax verification, W-2 Forms and other financial information available.

  2. Establish a detailed viable parenting plan (child care, after school care, transportation, pediatrician, etc.).

  3. Who is more stable and/or can provide the best home for the child (ren)?

  4. Where has the child (ren) been attending school? Is it possible to keep the child (ren) in the same school district?

  5. Prepare a chronology of events leading up to the divorce including treatment of the child(ren), time spent with the child(ren), activities with the child(ren), the child(ren)’s schedule.

  6. Consider if a home study should be prepared regarding each home of the child (ren).

  7. Consider whether a psychological evaluation should be done on the mother?

  8. Is drug testing necessary? (Be sure to request hair follicle drug testing.)

  9. Is there an alcohol or other addiction problem in the home?

  10. Who can provide the best moral upbringing for the children?

  11. Is there evidence such as pictures, social networking sites, video tapes, texting, etc. that may help your case?

  12. Avoid unnecessary compromising photos, data on social networking sites, or texting!

Just Remember the five biggest mistakes men make in a custody suits are: 1) failing to respond to the legal action itself; 2) obtaining incorrect child custody legal advice (from friends and family rather than a legal expert); 3) signing a quick child custody settlement agreement while passions are high that is later deeply regretted; 4) failing to perform under the actual settlement agreement as signed; and 5) getting frustrated and/or acquiescing to unreasonable demands and orders.

Think smart when contemplating Child Custody Modifications, be prepared and get an experienced legal professional to help you accomplish your goals!

Texas Child Support Guidelines Update

On September 1, 2013: Important Texas Child Support Guideline Changed!

The Texas Child Support Division of the Attorney General increased the “CAP” on net resources for purposed Child Support from the past amount of  $7500 to be $8550, which became effective Sept. 1, 2013.

This “Cap Increase” affects any child support case filed or pending after September 1, 2013.

Under the Texas Family Code §154.125 the guidelines for Child Support are as follows:

(a) The guidelines for the support of a child in this section are specifically designed to apply to situations in which the obligor’s monthly net resources are not greater than $8,500 or the adjusted amount determined under Subsection (a-1), whichever is greater.

(a-1) The dollar amount prescribed by Subsection (a) above is adjusted every six years as necessary to reflect inflation. The Title IV-D agency shall compute the adjusted amount, to take effect beginning September 1 of the year of the adjustment, based on the percentage change in the consumer price index during the 72-month period preceding March 1 of the year of the adjustment, as rounded to the nearest $50 increment. The Title IV-D agency shall publish the adjusted amount in the Texas Register before September 1 of the year in which the adjustment takes effect. For purposes of this subsection, “consumer price index” has the meaning assigned by Section 341.201, Finance Code.

(a-2) The initial adjustment required by Subsection (a-1) shall take effect September 1, 2013. This subsection expires September 1, 2014.

(b) if the obligor’s monthly net resources are not greater than the amount provided by Subsection (a), the court shall presumptively apply the following schedule in rendering the child support order:

CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES
BASED ON THE MONTHLY NET RESOURCES OF THE OBLIGOR

  • 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

Depending on the number of other children an obligor has a duty to support, the percentage of child support may be lower. For example, if the obligor was previously married and has 1 child to support in the previous marriage, the amount of support paid for one child before the court decreases to 17.50 percent. See the chart below.

 

 Net resources are determined by deducting the following from the obligor’s income:
1. Social Security Taxes;
2. Federal Income Tax based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deductions;
3. State Income Tax;
4. Union Dues (if such deductions are being withheld); and
5. Expenses for Health Insurance Coverage for Obligor’s Child(ren) (if such deductions are being withheld).

See Texas Child Support Infographic , provided by Dallas Texas Attorney Mark Nacol, of the Nacol Law Firm PC
Nacol Law Firm - Mark Nacol - Attorney Dallas Texas Child Support Infographic

Getting a Texas Divorce? Know what Marital Property is Community or Separate

In Texas, Community Property Laws apply in determining the Property Distributions to a wife and husband.  This system is employed to divide the property fairly between the divorcing couple.

What is Separate Party?  Texas Family Law Code, FAM 3.001: A spouse’s separate property consists of:

  1. The property owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage

  2. The property acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift, devise, or descent

  3. The recovery for personal injuries sustained by spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage.

The terms “owned and claimed” as used in the Texas Family Code means that where the right to the property accrued before marriage the property would be separate.  Inception of title occurs when a party first has a right of claim to the property by virtue of which title is finally vested.  The existence or nonexistence of the marriage at the time of incipiency of the right of which title finally vests determines whether property is community or separate.  Inception of title occurs when a party first has a right of claim to the property.

Under Texas Constitution, Art. XVI, Section 15, separate property is defined as all property, both real and personal, of a spouse owned or claimed before marriage, and that acquired afterward by gift, devise or descent, shall be the separate property of that spouse; and laws shall be passed more clearly defining the rights of the spouses, in relation to separate  and community property; provided that persons about to marry and spouses, without the intention to defraud pre-existing creditors, may by written instrument from time to time partition between themselves all or part of their property, then existing or to be acquired, or exchange between themselves the community interest of one spouse or future spouse in any property for the community interest of the other spouse or future spouse in other community property then existing or to be acquired, whereupon the portion or interest set aside to each spouse shall be and constitute a part of the separate property and estate of such spouse or future spouse; spouses may also from time to time, by written instrument, agree between themselves that the income or property from all or part of the separate property then owned or which thereafter might be acquired by only one of them, shall be the separate property of that spouse; if one spouse makes a gift of property to the other that gift is presumed to include all income or property which might arise from that gift of property; and spouses may agree in writing that all or part of the separate property owned by either or both of them shall be the spouses’ community property.

What Is Community Property? Texas Family Law Code, FAM 3.002:  Community property consists of the property, other than separate property, acquired by either spouse during the marriage.

Texas Family Code, Section 3.003 states that all property possessed by either spouse during or at the dissolution of the marriage is presumed to be community property and that the degree of proof necessary to establish that property is separate property, rather than community property, is clear and convincing evidence.  Clear and convincing evidence is defined as that measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established.  If property cannot be proved clearly and convincingly to be separate property, then it is deemed to be community property.

The Texas Family Code, Section 7.002, deals with quasi-community property and requires a court divide property wherever the property is situated, if 1) the property was acquired by either spouse while domiciled in another state and the property would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property had been domiciled in Texas at the time of acquisition; or 2) property was acquired by either spouse in exchange for real or personal property and that property would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property so exchanged had been domiciled in Texas at the time of the acquisition.

What about Property Acquired during Marriage? Property in which inception of title occurs during marriage is community property unless it is acquired in one of the following manner, in which it becomes separate property of the acquiring spouse:

  1. By gift

  2. By devise or descent

  3. By a partition or exchange agreement or premarital agreement specifying that the asset is separate

  4. As income from separate property made separate as a result of a gift, a premarital agreement or a partition and exchange agreement

  5. By survivorship

  6. In exchange for other separate property

  7. As recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage.

During a divorce, it is important that both parties know what type of property is involved in the divorce and what is separate and community property. This knowledge may determine or influence what each party will receive at the end of the settlement.