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Child Support: How To Reach a Child Maintenance Agreement That Benefits Your Children

Child Support: How To Reach a Child Maintenance Agreement That Benefits Your Children

Although you may not be able to avoid tension during a divorce, your kids are your most important consideration. That’s why it’s vital to arrange a child maintenance agreement.

The post Child Support: How To Reach a Child Maintenance Agreement That Benefits Your Children appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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What You Must Know About Child Support Modification Hearings

What You Must Know About Child Support Modification Hearings

Modification of a child support order begins with filing a form by which either party can ask the court to reconsider the current child support arrangement.

The post What You Must Know About Child Support Modification Hearings appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Child Support Custody And Visitation

Guidelines The Court Uses To Determine Child Support, Custody, And Visitation

Child Support Custody And Visitation

When going through a divorce with minor children or determining paternity, one of the many decisions you will need to make is how much time each parent will spend with the minor children.

It is important to note that the amount of time spent with the children can also affect child support.

The goal of any agreement affecting children should be to protect the children’s best interest.

However, due to the emotional nature and financial implications of custody and visitation, many parents struggle to reach an agreement.

In the event parents are unable to find an agreeable solution the Court will intervene and create child custody and visitation orders based on several factors, including the children’s best interest.

Once the Court determines child custody and visitation, it will then use guidelines dictated by statutes and a child support worksheet to determine which spouse owes the other child support.

Determining Child Support, Custody, And Visitation

Child Support

In California, both parents are financially responsible for minor children. However, child support can be ordered to help provide for the children’s housing, clothing, food, extracurricular activities, and other needs.

Child support is based on several factors including each parent’s gross income, mandatory deductions, tax deductions, amounts paid for healthcare, time spent with each parent and more.

Most often, the higher-earning parent will pay child support as they have more disposable income. For families who have 50/50 or close to equal timeshare with the children, the parent who claims the minor children as dependents could be ordered to pay the other parent support.

With so many factors and variables in determining support, it is important to speak with a professional to review all available options and develop the best child support agreement for you and your children.

Imputing Income

If you or the other parent is unemployed or underemployed, the Court can still order child support. In either situation, the Court will review employment records and education history to determine if gainful employment is feasible and determine what their earning capacity may be.

The Court may also consider other factors, including the length of time you have been out of work and the current state of the job market.

If the Court finds one parent is underemployed or willfully not working, the Court could assign income to that parent based on previous salary or current earning capabilities determined by work or educational experience.

The assignment of income, also known as imputing income, can result in Court-ordered child support.

If a parent fails to meet their financial obligation and does not pay child support as ordered, arrears will accrue, and the parent could face additional penalties.

State Disbursement Unit (SDU)

In the past, child support was paid directly to the receiving parent. When a child support order dictated automatic deductions, the paying parent’s (payor’s) employer would withhold the amount ordered and send it directly to the other parent.

However, in 1996 the federal government passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act, requiring states to create a centralized location where parents pay child support. The creation of State Disbursement Units facilitated payment by collecting child support and distributing to the receiving parent.

When a child support order utilizes SDUs to facilitate payment through employers, payors can have up to 50 percent of their wages deducted.

In addition to facilitating payment, the 1996 Act changed how payment was distributed if a payor had more than one child support order.

Prior to the implementation of the SDUs, child support orders were prioritized by date. For instance, if a payor had orders to pay child support for children from a previous relationship and for the most recent relationship, and the amount ordered for the first relationship more than 50 percent of their income, the first family would get the full amount while the second family would receive partial payment or nothing.

After 1996, a paying parent’s child support amount can change based upon how much the payor parent earns or if there are other child support orders or arrearages are owed by the payor parent.

The SDUs can adjust the distribution of child support to ensure all children receive support. This can result in a reduction of child support received if the amount owed for all orders exceed 50 percent of the payor’s income.

However, the original amount ordered is still due and arrearages will build up unless the paying parent pays the difference directly to the SDU.

Child Custody and Visitation

California recognizes two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.  Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions that affect the child’s health, welfare, and safety. Legal decisions include what doctors the child sees, what school the child attends, participation in religious activities, when the child can get a driver’s license, and more.

If one parent has sole legal custody, they are not obligated to consult the other parent when making decisions.

However, if parents have joint legal custody, they will both be able to make decisions. Ideally, both parents would communicate and agree on any decisions that affect their children.

Physical custody refers to the time spent with each parent and where the child resides. Joint physical custody, when children live with both parents, is the most common arrangement and the goal of California Courts.

However, it is not the best solution for all families, especially if domestic or substance abuse is an issue. If one parent has primary or sole custody, the other “non-custodial” parent has visitation.

Visitation schedules can vary depending on the relationship between parents and their children and work or school schedules. Common visitation schedules are unsupervised visits every other weekend, bi-weekly visits, alternating major holidays, or supervised visits once a week.

It is highly suggested that both parents work together to create a parenting plan detailing visitation, pick up/drop off times and more.  If you are unable to reach an agreement, a family law attorney can help you create a parenting plan that not only benefits the children but considers the parents’ schedules. In the event, you are unable to come to an agreement the Court can hear your concerns and create custody and visitation orders.

However, court orders will dictate the amount of time each parent spends with the children, which can result in orders that neither you nor the other parent agree with and have financial ramifications for many years.

Custody Disagreements

In some cases, the parents may not be able to come to a custody agreement. Regardless of how you feel about your spouse, you should not bring your children into the argument.

Nor should you try to dissuade your children from seeing the other parent. The Courts will consider this when making a custody decision.

In most cases, the Court will not let a child testify as to which parent the child wishes to stay with as it is not fair to make the child choose.

When determining custody, the Court will review several factors such as the amount of time each parent spends with the children, domestic violence issues, substance abuse, involvement in educational or extracurricular activities, and general care.

Child Custody Evaluations

In some situations, the Court may order a child custody evaluation to help resolve a custody dispute. If ordered, the court can appoint an evaluator, or the parents can choose a private evaluator.

In either situation, both parties are responsible for the cost of the evaluator. The evaluator’s role is not to treat patients, but to provide an objective evaluation with informed opinions to help the Court determine the most appropriate custody outcome. The evaluator will conduct an investigation and interviews to decide which parent can provide the best situation for their children.

Evaluators weigh several factors to make their decision, including reviewing interactions between parents and their children, if the parents allow contact or visits with the other parent, and how the children behave in front of each parent.

Spoiling a child will not get you extra points!  Once the evaluator has completed their investigation, they will submit their opinion to the Court for consideration.

An Attorney for the Child

In addition to a child custody evaluation, or in place of an evaluation, the Court may appoint an attorney for the child, referred to as Minor’s Counsel.

The role of Minor’s Counsel is to protect and advocate for the child’s best interest. As with the evaluator, both parties share in the cost of the child’s attorney. While the Minor’s Counsel generally has wide discretion in their investigation, it often involves multiple interviews with the children, and sometimes the parents.

Upon conclusion of their findings, Minor’s Counsel will present their recommendation and the children’s wishes to the Court for consideration when creating orders.

Following Court Orders

Parents who fail to follow court orders can be in contempt of the Court, resulting in fines or worse.

Parents of children who refuse to visit the other parent according to their visitation orders can also be held in contempt and face financial fines or even jail.

However, the success of contempt charges depends on several factors, including the child’s age and the concept of parental control. If your children are refusing to see their other parent, it is imperative you contact a family law attorney as soon as possible.

An experienced attorney can listen to your situation, advise the proper course of action to protect parental rights, and against contempt charges.

The Best Outcome

Even if you and your spouse cannot get along, it is better if you are able to create a parenting plan with the help of your attorneys.

The focus of any agreement should always be protecting the best interest of your children.

Consistent, cordial communication with your co-parent can help you and your children transition to the new family dynamic.

Additionally, discussing decisions surrounding the children’s health, safety, and welfare together can help avoid the stress of costly court appearances. In the event an agreement can’t be reached, an experienced family law attorney can help you protect your children and your parental rights.

The post Guidelines The Court Uses To Determine Child Support, Custody, And Visitation appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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How to enforce a child support order when the paying parent lives outside of Texas

How to enforce a child support order when the paying parent lives outside of Texas

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

One of the most helpless feelings that a parent can experience is being in a position where you are not receiving the court ordered child support that you are entitled to. This can leave you vulnerable to the ups and downs of your own income leaving you little wiggle room to plan and budget for your family. On another level, it can and should anger you because your child’s other parent is placing other responsibilities ahead of providing for their child. Having someone essentially tell you that your child isn’t that important can be extremely hurtful- especially when that other person is your child’s parent.

Make no mistake, you have options available to you if and when your child’s other parent does not fulfill their end of the bargain when it comes to paying child support. The most straightforward and practical option when it comes to bringing the violations of your child support order to the attention of a judge is called an Enforcement suit.

An enforcement lawsuit seeks to do exactly what it sounds like- enforce something, namely a court order. You would file this lawsuit just like a Divorce or Original child custody suit. The only difference is that this the second case under the original case number that you were assigned in your child custody/divorce case. In this suit you would be notifying the judge of the other parent’s violations of the child support order and can then request “relief” from the court in the form of money and possible jail time for your child’s other parent.

It takes effort and planning on your part to get to the point where you can successfully present your case to a judge. Before then you are just another parent who is not receiving the child support payments you are supposed to be. Sometimes taking that first step towards learning about child support enforcement cases is the most difficult step in the process.

What happens, though, when your child’s other parent does not live close to your child or even within the State of Texas? Is the process the same for parents that do live in-State? Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will detail this subject.

People moving frequently is a reality in today’s world

As economies change, the job market changes as well. Gone are the days where a person is well guaranteed to grow up and live in one geographic location. Many times, people will up and move not only across a city but across the country for a variety of reasons.

Family courts cannot force you or your child’s other parent to reside in a certain place. However, a family court does have jurisdiction to limit where your child resides. Many parents choose to include what is known as a geographic restriction within their original court order. This geographic restriction often limits where your child can live to the county where your case was filed and any county that borders it. Family law language would term this as any county “contiguous” to the county where your case has been filed.

I have seen families in the Houston area use Harris County and any county contiguous to Harris. I have seen parents state that their child can live in Harris or Montgomery counties. I have even seen some parents state that the child must remain in a school district due to the excellent reputation of the schools. Whatever option is chosen, you need to know whether a geographic restriction is in place for you child and if so where your child can reside.

Getting back to the specific topic of this blog post, it happens that sometimes parents will cross state lines and begin to live in another state even if a geographic restriction is in place for their child. This parent is most frequently the non custodial parent- meaning that their child does not live with him or her primarily. There is nothing against the “rules” to do this. Again, a court cannot tell this parent where he or she can live. However, what it does do is open up the places where the child can reside. The reason being is that once the non custodial parent leaves the geographic region, so can the custodial parent and child.

Out of sight, out of mind unfortunately

Once your child’s other parent moves out of state it becomes an unfortunate situation that because he or she does not see your child as frequently their motivation to pay child support can  decrease a great deal. Maybe their move was predicated upon the promise of a job in the new location that did not actually come together as planned. Whatever the reason, if you are left waiting on child support from a parent that lives out of state here is what you need to know.

There are procedures in place that all states follow that allow for parents to enforce child support orders when the parent who owes child support resides outside of the home state. The Uniform Interstate Child Support Act (UIFSA) is the federal statute that contains the specific laws that pertain to this subject. In Texas the Office of the Attorney General is the governmental body charged with overseeing the complex child support structure in Texas.

You as the custodial parent would need to send the child support order to whatever body governs child support enforcement cases in the State where your child’s other parent resides. Then the order is reviewed and it will be sent on to the county judge where the other parent lives. It is in that court that child support enforcement cases are hard.

You may be asking how an out of state court would so easily enforce the child support laws of Texas. To answer this question you would need to know that UIFSA operates based on the legal certainty that the out of state court would honor Texas state law and the court in the other state would apply our laws to the process in whatever state the other parent is residing in.

What happens if the other parent does not pay

Whatever collection methods are approved by Texas law will be enforced in the out of State court. Garnishing the parent’s wages is a possibility if the parent’s employer can be found out. Missed child support payments can be made known to credit bureaus and liens can be placed on the property of that parent. Finally licenses like hunting, fishing, driving, commercial driving, etc. can be suspended for the failure to pay court ordered child support.

In extreme situations you can ask a Texas court to hold a non-paying parent in confinement for a period not to exceed 180 days or six months. Depending on the amount of child support that is actually owed this may be an option. Either way, an enforcement case is pretty straightforward in the sense that you must show the missed payments and the amount of money that is owed. There is not much the other parent can do to counteract your alleged proof of the violations.

Experience is essential when managing a child support enforcement case

If you intend to pursue a child support enforcement case against your child’s other parent it is in your best interest to become as well versed in the child support laws of our state as possible. If at all possible you should hire an attorney who has handled these type of cases before so that you can be as prepared as possible heading into the case.

After reading today’s blog post if you have any questions about the material that we covered please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations with our licensed family law attorneys six days a week. Whether you live in Baytown, Katy, Conroe or Tomball we work tirelessly on behalf of our clients and take pride in doing so. Before you rush into a case without much knowledge of the process or the law it is best to meet with an attorney who has been there and done that. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are those attorneys and we thank you for your consideration.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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support and understand your teen

21 Tips to Help You Support And Understand Your Teen During Divorce

support and understand your teen

 

It’s normal if a teenager doesn’t know what to think when their parents get a divorce. It can be very shocking. The thoughts and feelings going through their mind are usually confusing and scary, having very little idea of what might happen to them or their family.

Some questions they might have are …

“Do we have to move?”

“Will I be able to go to college?”

“Is this my fault?”

“Will I see my father?”

“What will my friends think of me?”

“Why me?”

In many instances, teens might feel like they can’t talk with their parents about how they feel. They might be embarrassed or might not know how to express themselves about it.

But, most parents and a lot of other people want to be supportive of a young person as they go through such a challenging time. The hard part is being sensitive when approaching the situation or knowing what to say.

I think sometimes keeping it simple is best. All a parent might need to do is simply tell their teenager … “I’m here for you.” This will give them an open window to talk when they’re ready.

Below are 21 tips to give you more ideas to help you support and understand your teen during divorce.

1. Provide quality and simple support at a time when everything seems chaotic.

2. Be patient with their behavior.

3. Keep both parents involved.

4. Respond with consistent support and set boundaries.

5. Do more listening than talking. Teenagers going through divorce are usually confused and need to be listened to and heard.

6. Keep visible conflict, heated discussions, and legal talk away from your teen.

7. Support their feelings even if you don’t agree.  Emotions aren’t always logical.

8. Acknowledge their emotions and continue to guide them with conversation helping them talk about their present feelings.

9. Teens need to know you care and that they are worth being cared about.

10. Find another person they can talk to such as a mentor, friend, therapist or relative.

11. Keep your teenagers routine as normal as possible.

12. Find them a support group with people their own age who are experiencing something similar.

13. Giving teens the time they need to think and experience divorce is ok. Sometimes it takes a long time for teens to process what they have been through and for healing to take place.

14. Divorce can be a big change, adjustments and living arrangements should be handled gradually.

15. Parents need to understand and be ok with what is comfortable with your teen with living arrangements. It can be tough to decide especially when couples disagree. But also keep in mind that some teens are able to thrive by spending half their time with each parent, others need the stability of having one “home” and visiting with the other parent.

16. Whatever arrangement is chosen, your child’s needs should come first. Avoid getting involved in a tug of war as a way to “win.”

17. When deciding how to handle birthdays, holidays, and vacations, stay focused on what’s best for your teen and what they want.

18. It’s important for parents to resolve issues themselves and not ask your teen to choose.

19. Get help dealing with your own painful feelings about the divorce. If you adjust, your teen will too.

20. Recognize stress. Talk with a child therapist for guidance on how to handle specific problems you’re concerned about.

21. Any type of change can be challenging. Believe everything will be OK.

The post 21 Tips to Help You Support And Understand Your Teen During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Men Don

Why Men Don’t Seek Support From Each Other During Divorce

Men Don't Seek Support From Each Other During Divorce

 

My Facebook feed is filled with divorced or almost divorced women turning to each other for support and there is one thing you won’t find on there:

Men.

Single dads and divorced dads are not gathering in tribes on social media boards or in person to chat about their plight and experience with divorce even if they want to.

Why Men Don’t Seek Support From Each Other During Divorce

A study published in 2000 in the Psychological Review, showed that stressed women “tend and befriend” while men go for the “fight or flight” option. Researchers suggest that this is due to the fact that when stressed, men’s brains omit less oxytocin, that feel-good love hormone than women. And according to statistics produced by the American Psychological Association in 2011, women (70%) are more apt to do something to reduce their stress than men (50%) are.

No matter which way we slice it, research shows that men tend to go the solo route when it comes to working through stress while women look for company along the way. Men don’t want to raise their hands and say, “Hey everyone, my life sucks,” or “I miss my ex-wife,” or “It’s really hard raising kids in a single parent home.” Doing that would mean admitting pain and hardship, something that isn’t considered a masculine trait and let’s face it, while women have been the oppressed gender from the start, men also suffer from unfair stereotypes and expectations.

It’s not OK, according to society, for a man to cry.

“Be a man, suck it up.”

You’ve heard that phrase tossed around and so have I. We tell men to be brave and strong and to keep a straight face. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for grief and sadness. So it isn’t surprising then that single dads and divorced men are not looking for a support group, but to me, this limits divorced men and single dads from moving past divorce in a healthy way.

If men could form groups or did form groups, it could help them grieve divorce and learn new parenting strategies from other dads. If a man did reach out to another man to say, “Hey, how did you find a good custody schedule,” or “Is mediation the better route?” it would be beneficial for that just-divorcing dad. Going solo on such a huge time of adversity like becoming a divorced, single dad seems risky, from my female-wired brain.

It could also be the reason men seem to jump into new relationships, faster. A new partner might just be the divorced man’s support group, but that is problematic too. Another woman shouldn’t be your springboard for grief and renewal.

So for all the divorced dads out there, why not see befriending or growing your support network of other divorced and single dads in a different light, rather than seeing it as a “b*tch fest” or gathering like a group of old ladies?

See it as a:

  • A chance to network: Maybe your new friends will have good business contacts or even better, cute single female friends.
  • A chance to mentor: If you’re a single dad mentoring a man who’s going through the divorce process, you can be a father figure to someone going through the experience—an adoptive son or little brother, as it were.
  • A chance to learn from others: Use your man brain and be logical: someone who has been there or done that will know certain pitfalls to avoid as you go through the divorce process that you wouldn’t have known without asking someone in the “know.”

To all the divorced dads or “going through a divorce” dads, why not do things a little differently in your life? Making contacts and building a support network isn’t just for women. It’s for smart people who want to make a huge life adjustment a bit easier or in other words, it’s for you!

The post Why Men Don’t Seek Support From Each Other During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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An Ohio Divorce Custody and Support Discussion

Ohio Divorce Custody and Support Discussion

Questions and answers regarding a variety of common Ohio family law issues – especially regarding Ohio divorce custody and support.

The post Ohio Divorce Custody and Support Discussion appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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An Ohio Divorce Custody and Support Discussion

An Ohio Divorce Custody and Support Discussion

Questions and Answers re Various Ohio Family Law Issues–Ohio Divorce Custody and Support Discussion

The post An Ohio Divorce Custody and Support Discussion appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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There is More to Taking Care of Kids Than Calculating Child Support

There is More to Taking Care of Kids Than Calculating Child Support

Of the many items divorced couples need to figure out — such as who gets the house, who keeps the expensive wedding gifts, calculating child support, and more — perhaps the most important decisions revolve around the kids Depending on their ages, they may or may not understand what’s going on, and, regardless, it will be a difficult transition for them as well.

The post There is More to Taking Care of Kids Than Calculating Child Support appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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The Public Needs a Standardized Spousal Support Formula

The Public Needs a Standardized Spousal Support Formula

Before filing for divorce, it is likely you would like an estimate of how a judge will examine you and your spouse’s assets. Most importantly, you would like an idea of the future awards or obligations that will result from the divorce. Yet, in Nevada (and in most other jurisdictions), such a reasonable request from […]

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