Texas has specific guidelines related to the amount of child support that should be paid each month. The guidelines consider the income of the obligor, or the person paying child support, and the amount of children to be supported. While the amount child support is ordered is based off of these guidelines in most cases, child support can be increased or decreased from the guideline amount depending on a series of factors listed in Texas Family Code §154.123. The Court must consider all relevant factors when deviating from guideline child support. These factors include:

  1. The age and the needs of the child;
  2. The child’s educational expenses beyond high school;
  3. Health insurances provisions and payment of uninsured medical costs;
  4. Extraordinary educational, health-care, or other expenses of the child or of the adult parties to the suit;
  5. The resources available for the support of the child;
  6. Whether either party has possession of or acts as managing conservator for another child;
  7. The possession and access each party has to the child;
  8. Travel costs for one party to visit or have possession of the child;
  9. Child care expenses that allow either party to maintain employment;
  10. The respective abilities of each party to contribute to the child’s support;
  11. The net resources of the person receiving child support;
  12. Spousal support paid or received;
  13. Any benefits provided by an employer such as a car, housing, or other benefits;
  14. Paycheck deductions including
    1. Federal income taxes;
    2. Social security taxes;
    3. Non-discretionary retirement plan contributions;
    4. Union dues;
    5. Child’s health insurance or cash medical support.
    6. Cash flow from real and personal property;
    7. Debts assumed by either party;
    8. Any other reason consistent with the child’s best interest, taking into consideration the parents’ circumstances.

Ultimately, the court will consider all of these factors, but will make a final decision based on the needs of the child. A child’s needs, for support purposes, are more than life’s bare necessities, and are based on the best interest of the child. The best interest of the child will be a critical factor for any judge ordering a deviation from guideline support.

For more information, please visit our main child support information page or review other child support blog articles.

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Know Your Rights Regarding Child Support

If your child lives with you and you are a single parent, but the other parent hasn’t been providing any support for your child, Texas Courts may order what is known as ‘retroactive child support’. This means that in addition to requiring a parent to pay child support going forward, a parent may be ordered to pay back child support for previous times when that parent was not helping to support the child.

In order for a court to order retroactive child support in Texas, the court must first find that no previous order regarding child support was in place, or that the previous order in place was terminated prior to the time frame for which back child support is requested. If someone is ordered to pay child support and fails to do so, those missed payments are known as arrears, not retroactive child support, and a different process is in place for collecting back payments.

If no child support order is in place, the judge then has discretion to determine whether retroactive child support is in the best interest of the child. It is up to the judge to make a decision based on the specific facts of each individual case, however, judges often consider the type of help and support given by the non-possessory parent when making a decision about retroactive child support in Texas. If the court finds that the parent has been providing some form of support, the judge may decide that retroactive child support is unnecessary.

Determining The Retroactive Payment Amount

If a judge decides to order retroactive child support in Texas, the amount of the retroactive child support payment will be calculated using the same guidelines used to determine child support payments going forward.

The Court will look at the net monthly income of the person ordered to pay child support (the obligor) and order the obligor to pay a certain percent of that income every month, depending on the number of children the obligor has and several other factors. The Court will then add up the number of months in which child support should have been paid to determine a total amount of retroactive child support.

How Many Years Of Payments Are Considered?

There is a presumption that the Court can only look back 4 years when determining the total amount of child support, however, that presumption can be rebutted in several ways. The Court can order retroactive child support in Texas for a period longer than four years if there is evidence showing that the obligor attempted to avoid the establishment of child support obligation even though the obligor knew (or should have known) that he was the parent.

Schedule Your Consultation

For more information regarding child support please contact us or visit our main child support page. If you would like to request legal representation from our experienced team of family law attorneys, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

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In Texas, many cases are settled during mediation. An agreement for divorce mediation in Texas is a binding agreement signed by all parties and their attorneys that resolves all of the issues in case. This is a separate process from divorce litigation. Once an agreement is reached, the most difficult part of the case is over, but there are still several steps that need to be taken to finalize the agreement.

1. Prove Up A Mediated Settlement Agreement In Front Of A Judge

To finalize a divorce mediation in Texas, the mediator first files the agreement with the court. In most cases, the agreement is filed within twenty-four hours. In many courts, especially in cases involving child custody, one party must “prove up” the mediated settlement agreement in front of the judge. This means that one party appears before the judge and briefly explains that the parties have reached an agreement and what that agreement contains. The judge will then examine the agreement to ensure that it comports with Texas law and in most cases approve the agreement.

2. Schedule An Entry Date For The Final Order

Following the “prove up”, the attorney will request an entry. An entry date can also be requested in instances where a “prove up” is not required. An entry date is a date by which the final decree or order must be signed by all parties and submitted to the court.

3. Drafting Final Documents

Once an entry date is set, one of the attorneys begins drafting the decree or order. Generally, Texas divorce mediation settlement agreements are only a few pages long. They contain all of the agreements of the parties, but not the legal language necessary for a final decree. For example a settlement of divorce mediation in Texas may state simply that the parties agree to a standard possession order, the final draft will then need to specify over several pages the exact terms of visitation in standard possession order. One attorney must to draft a longer document with the appropriate language.

4. Agreeing To Final Document Drafts

Once the draft is completed, all parties and their attorneys have an opportunity to review the document prior to entry. Sometimes, one party does not agree to the final language. If there is a dispute regarding drafting, in most cases the parties will return to the mediator, who will then act as arbitrator, and make a final decision regarding which language best reflects the agreement of the parties as written in the mediated settlement agreement. If the parties still disagree then the judge will hear the parties’ arguments on the entry date and make a final determination regarding the decree or order.

5. Enter Signed Final Order And Supporting Documents With The Court

The final decree order or order is not the only document submitted to the court. For divorce mediation in Texas, several supporting documents must also be filed. In most cases involving minor children child support withholding orders and medical support orders are generally required. Personal information sheets must be filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. In cases involving property division, special warranty deeds, which transfer interests in real property, titles, and qualified domestic relations orders, which are used to divide retirement accounts, must be filed as well.

In addition to filing documents regarding the division of property and payment of support, depending on the terms of the agreement, the actual exchanges of property and payment must be made. Texas divorce mediation entry dates are often used a deadline for the exchange of property or money, however, parties may agree to other dates of exchange as well.

6. Review the Post Divorce Mediation In Texas Checklist

After the judge signs the final order or decree the lawsuit is complete. However, if this is a divorce, then you still have many outstanding issues left to address. Please follow this post-divorce checklist to help sort through any outstanding matters.

If you have questions or you are ready to move forward with mediation, contact Mary E. Ramos at Ramos Law Group to schedule your consultation to learn more about legal services for divorce mediation in Texas.

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First and foremost, after your divorce has been finalized, several steps remain to be completed.  The list below will help you sort through the many outstanding issues that may need to be addressed shortly after entering final orders.

Post-Divorce Checklist:

  1. Ensure that all documents related to the division of property are filed with the Court, including a qualified domestic relations order or special warranty deed.
  2. After the documents relating to the division of assets have been signed by the court, submit your documents to the appropriate parties, like the fund administrator of your 401K, or the Registrar of Deeds for your home.
  3. Change the titles on your vehicles and other property.
  4. Prepare new wills and other estate planning documents.
  5. Change the beneficiary on your life insurance, 401K and IRA account, unless you are ordered to leave it in your former spouse’s name.
  6. Change your tax status to reflect that you are no longer married and/or to alter the number of exemptions.
  7. If you have moved, update your mailing address with credit card companies, banks the department of motor vehicles and insurance companies.
  8. Obtain auto insurance in your name only.
  9. If you were awarded any debts associated with property, refinance the debt so that it is solely in your name.
  10. Contact your bank and close any joint accounts that you were awarded and reopen the accounts in your name only.
  11. If child support is ordered, begin making payments directly to the San Antonio Disbursement Unit until the wage withholding order has been processed and money begins coming directly out of your paycheck.
  12. Close any joint safety deposit or PO Boxes.
  13. Keep copies of all social security documents related to your previous spouse. If you were married for more than ten years you may still be eligible for your spouse’s social security benefits.
  14. Revoke all powers of attorney that you may have granted to your spouse in writing.
  15. If you were previously receiving health insurance through your spouse, ensure that you have continued coverage through COBRA or obtain health insurance through other means.
  16. If you changed your name as a result of the divorce, obtain a new driver’s license, passport and social security card.
  17. If you were ordered to use OurFamilyWizard.com in a divorce with children, set up your account.
  18. Begin keeping copies of all your child’s medical records and expenses. Remember to send a copy of any uninsured medical expenses to your former spouse so that you can be reimbursed for 50% of the expense.
  19. If you have any issues visiting or accessing your children following your divorce, create a detailed calendar of all incidents to be used in a later modification or enforcement of your divorce decree.
  20. Scan and copy family photos in your possession and give a copy to your former spouse.
  21. Ensure that all property awarded in the divorce has been exchanged.
  22. Obtain a certified copy of your decree.
  23. Create a new budget based on your change in income and expenses.
  24. You must 30 days prior to applying for another marriage license in Texas.
  25. Take care of yourself. If you are struggling with the emotions of your divorce seek support from friends, family and mental health professionals.

These are just some of the things you need to complete during this period of transition in your life.  If you have some additional suggestions email us at info@ramosfamilylaw.com.

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