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If you’re considering handling your own divorce paperwork and proceedings, you’re not alone. There are many couples who start the divorce process without representation from an attorney. While this practice is legal, it can be dangerous when people believe in several common myths about divorce before trying to start a do-it-yourself divorce in Texas.

The feasibility of getting a divorce without an attorney can change considerably depending on the details of your marriage, and the type of divorce you will need. This is generally only possible during an uncontested divorce, when both parties agree on every detail, including about how community property will be split. If there are any disagreements, however, you’re in for a contested divorce and should seek representation immediately.

Finding the right Information

You may have friends and family members who have been through a divorce, and may feel like you have a good idea of the process, but every state has their own laws and regulations concerning the requirements for issuing a final divorce decree. These laws can change over time due to new legislation and court rulings affecting Texas divorce. Do-it-yourself attempts at divorce may seem like a money saving move in the short-term, but you stand to lose more in the long-run if you have the wrong information.

If you go into your do-it-yourself divorce in Texas with the wrong information, you may make decisions that could hurt your case. That’s why it’s crucial to seek advice from an experienced divorce lawyer as your first move toward a divorce, or as soon as you are notified of your spouse’s divorce intentions. Your divorce lawyer can tell you the truth about how divorce works and debunk many of the myths surrounding it. Here are the top 10 myths about do-it-yourself divorce in Texas.

1. Divorce can be denied. In Texas, you do not have to prove fault in order to have the court grant the divorce. Therefore, even if you don’t want the divorce and your spouse does, the judge will still grant the divorce. Once all the financial, custody, and visitation issues have been resolved at settlement or trial, a divorce will be granted.

2. If you commit adultery, you’ll lose everything. Some people mistakenly believe they cannot have a do-it-yourself divorce in Texas because adultery is involved. Just because someone has been unfaithful during the marriage doesn’t mean that they’ll lose their home, kids, assets, and rights during the divorce. This can still be used as an argument by the other spouse to try to gain more of community property acquired during the marriage, but this argument is not usually seen as a large factor determining the division of property. If the person who has been unfaithful wastes community assets during the course of committing adultery, that factor will likely be taken into consideration during a property division.

3. Mothers are always awarded custody of children. In the past, there was a legal bias in favor of mothers, but the law has evolved so that both fathers and mothers can have the primary right of possession. The court makes decisions about custody and visitation that are in the best interests of the child. If you’re a concerned father, we recommend speaking to an experienced divorce lawyer for men.

4. You can avoid paying child support. Child support payments in Texas are established by law. Unfortunately, some people have the mistaken impression that they can avoid paying child support in Texas divorce through a do-it-yourself divorce. If you have a minor child and you are not the custodial parent, you will have to pay child support. If you fail to comply with a child support order, both your spouse and the state of Texas can take steps to enforce those orders.

5. I can deny visitation to my ex if they don’t pay the child support we agreed upon. Access to the children and parenting time are not related to the payment of child support. There is a process for enforcing child support obligations, but threatening or denying a parent visitation is not one of them. Initiating a do-it-yourself divorce in Texas does not mean you can decide to withhold visitation from your spouse.

6. Only Women get maintenance payments. Decisions about spousal support, just like custody decisions, are no longer are based on gender. Women may be ordered to pay alimony following a divorce if they earn more than their husbands. Decisions about spousal support are based on the economic realities of the respective spouses regardless of their gender. Do-it-yourself divorces in Texas are no different. If you are considering a divorce and expect child support or alimony to be a contested issue, it’s important to schedule a consultation with a competent attorney to protect your rights.

7. Children get to decide who they live with. If a child has reached the age of 12 and has expressed a preference as to which parent they would like to live with, a judge may decide to take that fact into consideration in the determination as to custody. The judge is not required to follow a child’s choice and will make their custody decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child during your Texas divorce. Do-it-yourself divorces are no different in this regard.

8. Divorce always leads to battles. Divorce can often be full of hostility, blame, and finger-pointing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Do-it-yourself divorces in Texas have the best results when all parties agree, but this is not an effective means of de-escalating the divorce process. Other methods such as collaborative divorce, mediation, and negotiation are all options if you are trying to keep the divorce from becoming highly contested. If you tell your attorney that you would rather focus on resolving conflicts as opposed to starting or escalating them, the attorney can help make your divorce a process of negotiation and agreement rather than argument.

9. Equitable distribution results in equal division. Property in Texas is divided based on what is just and right in light of the circumstances. Property can be and often is divided in an unequal manner based on the many factors that go into a judge’s decisions about property division. Whether that property is divided 50/50 is not one of them.

10. You must have a lawyer. You have a right to represent yourself in your own do-it-yourself divorce in Texas, but it is not always the best option. You could make errors that harm you in the future. Once the judge signs the Final Decree of Divorce, there is nothing about the property division that can be changed. You may also make mistakes regarding your children and child support that could be difficult to change later.

If you’re thinking about getting a divorce in Texas, contact the offices of Ramos Law Group for a consultation. We’re here to help. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

Child Support in TexasIf there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of the child, three years since the last child support order and a difference in the month child support amount by either 20% or $100 from what is currently ordered, then you are entitled to ask the Court to increase the amount of monthly child support ordered.

This cannot be done by a simple agreement by the parties; a new order must be signed and approved by the Court for the increased amount to go into effect. You can achieve this by either working with the Office of the Attorney General or hiring a family law attorney to file a modification suit for you.

The party who receives the monthly child support (called the Obligee) can contact their local Office of the Attorney General Child Support office to request that a review be done and increased child support be ordered. The upside to using the Office of the Attorney General is that the services offered are free and can be done without hiring an attorney. The downside is that the Office of the Attorney General is inundated with thousands of cases per year and it can take some time before your case is set for trial on the court’s docket for a child support modification.

Child Support ModificationThe potentially faster method would be retaining private counsel. An experienced family law attorney will be able to tell you how much of an increase in child support you can expect to receive. Private counsel will also likely be able to set the matter for a hearing faster than the Office of the Attorney General would be able to do so.

If you think you are entitled to an increase in child support, contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC and schedule a consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

child custody support divorce

A divorce can have a significant impact on other family members – especially children. As you go through this strenuous time, it is so important that you take steps to preserve the best interest of all children involved. Naturally, using child support lawyers in Houston, TX is essential if you want the best possible results. When it comes to your loved ones, there is no room for gambling, and going into a divorce without proper legal representation is a serious risk. A good divorce attorney can help you get an ideal custody and child support plan that works for you and your children.

Try to Compromise

As you go through your divorce, it is best to avoid conflict wherever possible. Of course, when it comes to something important to both spouses (children for example), that is not always possible. However, if you can work with your child support lawyers in Houston, TX to negotiate with the other party, you may be able to make progress in finding a reasonable solution that works for both parties. Of course, a good lawyer will fight to help you get the plan you want, but if you can come to an amicable agreement, that is always the best option.

Keep the Best Interest of the Children in Mind

parental alienation

When you are going through this emotionally turbulent period of your life, it can be all too easy to make rash, irrational decisions out of spite. Although you may harbor feelings of resentment and anger towards your former spouse, it is so important that you remember that the children do not need to have those issues projected onto them. Although you may want to exact revenge by fighting to keep the other parent away from the children, this is only going to be harmful in the long run. Of course, if the other parent is abusive or addicted to alcohol or drugs, it may be necessary to seek sole custody. Talk to your child support lawyers in Houston, TX for information on arriving at a reasonable compromise that works for both parents.

Consult Your Lawyer to Make Sure You Are Getting a Fair Deal

white gavel, block, and scalesWhether you are the one receiving child support or paying it, it is essential that you give and receive a fair amount. Even if the divorce has already been finalized, you can always consider modification if you feel that you are paying more than you should be or that you are not receiving appropriate custody or visitation rights. When all is said and done, an ideal divorce has both parents feeling like they are satisfied with the proceedings. Of course, this is not always possible, so it is important that you fight for your rights when necessary. A child support lawyer in Houston, TX will fight alongside you to get what is rightfully due.

Contact Ramos Law Group, PLLC

If you need a reputable child support lawyer in Houston. TX, look no further. At Ramos Law Group, PLLC, we have years of first-hand experience in child custody and child support cases. We go to great lengths to make sure that you are satisfied with every decision made – no matter how large or small. When it comes to protecting the best interest of your family, we realize the importance of this process. Call (713) 225-6200 to set up a consultation, or simply fill out our online contact form. Take this important step to protect your family today.

determine child support When you are going through divorce proceedings, it is important that you keep your child’s best interests in mind. The significant changes associated with a divorce can create a difficult time in a child’s life, so it is up to both parents to maintain as much stability as possible for the child. Paying child support is one of the ways that the state of Texas helps maintain consistency and stability in the lives of the child or children involved in a divorce. This overview is intended to give you an idea of what to expect when it comes to child support in Houston, Texas. Of course, it is important to speak to divorce lawyers in Houston who will be able to give you more specific information for your case.

 

Annual Gross Income

The state of Texas requires one parent to pay a certain amount of money each month to the other parent so that the parent will be able to support the child. The parent who pays child support is known as the child support obligor. In order to determine the amount of child support required, the state looks at the obligor’s annual gross income. There are a number of factors that will come into play when determining the annual gross income, which will also determine the amount of child support to be paid, including the following:

child support texas

  • Salary
  • Commissions
  • Overtime pay
  • Tips
  • Bonuses
  • Interest
  • Dividends
  • Rental income
  • Trust income
  • Retirement income
  • Disability income
  • Any other additional revenue

Monthly Net Income

Once the annual gross income is calculated, social security taxes, federal taxes, union dues, health insurance premiums, and medical expenses will be subtracted according to a formula promulgated by the Office of the Attorney General. The resulting figure is considered to be the spouse’s annual net income. The monthly net income can easily be found by simply dividing that figure by 12. From there, the percentage of payment due can be found by multiplying the monthly net income by a percentage that will vary depending on how many children are involved.

  • If there is 1 child, multiply the monthly net income by 20%
  • If there are 2 children, multiply the monthly net income by 25%
  • If there are 3 children, multiply the monthly net income by 30%
  • If there are 4 children, multiply the monthly net income by 35%
  • If there are 5 children, multiply the monthly net income by 40%
  • If there are 6 or more children, the amount must be at least equal to 5 children

How Long Do Payments Last?

Child support payments generally continue until the child is 18 years old or until the child graduates from high school, whichever is later. There are exceptions that happen occasionally, such as if the child joins the military, is legally emancipated, or marries. Additional child support may be necessary if the child is physically or mentally disabled. If you are not sure how long you will need to pay child support, contact one of the divorce lawyers Houston has to offer. They will be able to help you to determine exactly what is to be expected from you or your spouse.

Let a Legal Professional Help

legal advice child supportFiguring out child support laws is challenging. There is plenty of paperwork to sift through, math to do, and disclosures to complete. Most people find that hiring divorce lawyers in Houston is the best course of action in order to navigate the complexities of the process without becoming overwhelmed. You can call on the best divorce lawyers Houston has to offer at Ramos Law Group, PLLC. Widely regarded as the best in the business, there is a reason why people choose Ramos Law Group, PLLC first. Call today and let an experienced professional walk you through every step of the child support process.

Texas Child Support Guidelines Change – Effective 09/01/2013

On September 1, 2013 Texas law changed in respect to child support guidelines. In Texas, the legislature promulgates a series of guidelines to help determine the appropriate amount of child support that should be paid by the child support obligor. While the guidelines are not absolute and it is possible to receive above guideline child support, the guidelines do form the basis of most child support determinations in Texas.

Under the child support guidelines, the obligor must pay a certain percent of his/her ‘net’ monthly income in child support. It is important to remember that net income as defined for child support is different than actual ‘take home pay’ for most people. Previously, the amount of ‘net income’ considered under the guidelines was capped at $7,500 per month. Even if a parent made $50,000 per month, under the guidelines, only the first $7,500 would be considered as ‘net income.’ For example, for if there was one child, the parent paying child support would be required to pay 20% of no more than $7,500 under the guidelines, or about $1,500 per month in child support.  This is often referred to as ‘max’ guideline child support.

As of September 1, 2013, the cap increased to $8,550 per month and the first $8,550 of net monthly income will now be considered for child support. In the example above, child support for one child would increase from $1,500 per month to $1,710 under the new guidelines. In order to determine whether you are eligible to pay or receive ‘max’ child support, it is important to refer to the tax charts calculated by the Office of the Attorney General. Under the tax charts, a person makes $8,550 ‘net monthly income’ if they make $11,828.81 in gross income per month, or about $141,945.72 gross per year.  The previous cap reflected a gross annual income of about $124,086. A change in child support amount does not happen automatically, if you are currently receiving ‘max’ guideline child support or believe you may be eligible, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC to discuss modifying your support order to reflect the new law.

If you need more information regarding child support, please visit our main site:

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.

Texas child support obligations are calculated using a percentage of your net resources, that percentage being based on how many children one has an obligation to support. Unless there are additional circumstances, as outlined below, a court cannot order a party to pay above Guideline child support amounts as dictated by the Texas Family Code.

There are special circumstances where a court will order a party to pay child support obligations above the guideline amount.  Texas Family Code §154.123 states the court shall consider the following factors when deciding if guideline child support is applicable:

  1.   the age and needs of the child;
  2.   the ability of the parents to contribute to the support of the child;
  3. any financial resources available for the support of the child;
  4. the amount of time of possession of and access to a child;
  5. the amount of the obligee’s net resources, including the earning potential of the obligee if the actual income of the obligee is significantly less than what the obligee could earn because the obligee is intentionally unemployed or underemployed and including an increase or decrease in the income of the obligee or income that may be attributed to the property and assets of the obligee;
  6. child care expenses incurred by either party in order to maintain gainful employment;
  7. whether either party has the managing conservatorship or actual physical custody of another child;
  8. the amount of alimony or spousal maintenance actually and currently being paid or received by a party;
  9. the expenses for a son or daughter for education beyond secondary school;
  10. whether the obligor or obligee has an automobile, housing, or other benefits furnished by his or her employer, another person, or a business entity;
  11. the amount of other deductions from the wage or salary income and from other compensation for personal services of the parties;
  12. provision for health care insurance and payment of uninsured medical expenses;
  13. special or extraordinary educational, health care, or other expenses of the parties or of the child;
  14. the cost of travel in order to exercise possession of and access to a child;
  15. positive or negative cash flow from any real and personal property and assets, including a business and investments;
  16. debts or debt service assumed by either party;  and
  17. any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into consideration the circumstances of the parents.

After the court examines the above factors and circumstances, it may determine that it is in the child’s best interest to order child support in an amount above guideline recommendations.

This is NOT advisable for several reasons.

First, the ordering containing a child support obligation could ostensibly be in effect for many years, depending on the age of the child when it is first submitted to the court. Second, costs of living increase, people have more children, jobs are lost, two incomes become one; there are a variety of events that could cause a party to regret agreeing to pay a higher amount of child support than guideline amount. Third, there are penalties associated with failure to pay child support obligations; a person does not want to set themselves up for criminal or punitive sanctions for failure to pay if they could have avoided it by paying the guideline amount.

If a party insists on providing more for their child than the guideline amount it would be advisable to do it informally. A party can purchase school supplies, clothing and toys, pay for ballet lessons or put the money in a college fund rather than committing to a higher amount of child support in a court order. While it is admirable that a parent may want to go above and beyond the minimum support obligation, it shouldn’t be at their expense should circumstances change and they are unable to pay the increased support obligation.

The State of Texas takes failing to pay child support very seriously; you can face several different types of penalties. Penalties of child support enforcement in Texas include contempt, liens/foreclosures, suspension of licenses and child support liens.

Failure to pay child support obligations is punishable by coercive and punitive contempt. A motion for enforcement by contempt can be filed with the court. A motion for enforcement may be filed by the parent to whom the child support obligation is owed or by the Office of Attorney General.

If the court finds the non-paying party to be guilty, they face incarceration for up to six months, fines and paying attorney’s fees. If a non-paying party fails to make a hearing appearance for child support enforcement in Texas, the court may issue a capias, which is a warrant for arrest.

Additional Possible Penalties:

  • Suspension of driver’s license
  • Denial of tax refunds or other government benefits
  • Garnishment of wages
  • Liens placed against real property
  • Denial of hunting, boating or professional licenses
  • Jail Sentence
  • Probation
  • Fines and Court Costs
  • Attorney Fees

Community Supervision Suspensions

A court may find a party in contempt and sentence them to jail but suspend the sentence and place a party on community supervision. Provisions of such probation can include a payment schedule for making up owed support as well as the requirement that all support payments be made on time. Should a party fail to follow the terms of probation, it may be revoked and that party ordered to serve the originally ordered jail time.

Consult with an Attorney

If you may be required to pay child support in an upcoming or ongoing divorce, it’s important that you seek legal representation if you have not already done so. The board certified attorneys at Ramos Law Group will answer all of your questions, including about child support enforcement in Texas, and help you to arrive at the best case resolution for you and your family. Contact Ramos Law Group PLLC today.

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