Uncontested Divorce-This means a divorce in which both spouses agree to the following:
- Reason for divorce
- Custody of children
- Division of marital assets/property
- Division of marital debt
- Child support
- Medical support for children
The disagreement on any one of the above, then turns an uncontested divorce into a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is the most inexpensive and quickest way to divorce. In Texas, the earliest a court may finalize a divorce is on the 61st day after it is filed.
This means there is at least one issue in one of the above subcategories that one spouse does not agree with the other on. If this is the case, then the spouses will likely be ordered to mediate prior to having any hearing or trial before the Judge. If the spouses agree at mediation, then the attorney prepares a Temporary or Final Order specifying the spouses agreement in writing for the Judge to sign. Should the mediation process result in no agreement, then each spouse with their attorney, prepare for a contested hearing in front of the Judge so that the Judge can decide how the contested issue(s) will be resolved. Upon the conclusion of a contested hearing or trial, the attorney puts the Judge’s ruling on the disputed issue(s) in writing as an Order for the Judge to sign and then that Order becomes binding on both spouses.
It is in the best interest of each spouse to attempt to reach an agreement in mediation as they will be the ones whose lives will ultimately be affected. A good agreement at mediation will be more likely reached by each spouse putting aside emotions and looking at their divorce as a business transaction with the only emotion to be taken into account is the best interest of their children. Each spouse will need to compromise to reach an agreement at mediation. A good attorney will inform their client during the mediation process whether they believe the agreement is favorable to the client or if the client will likely receive a better outcome by having a hearing in front of the Judge. This is one of the reasons that one wants to hire an attorney with litigation and Family Court experience.
Who should the kids live with? The answer to this question is often the most disputed issue in Family Law and the often the most expensive. In considering who the children will live with, the Court considers the “best interest of the child,” standard. There are a lot of factors that must be considered by the Court in order for the Court to rule on which parent the child(ren) will reside with.
A parent should fight for custody when it is in the child's best interest that they do so. A parent's selfish needs or desires to hurt the other spouse should not be a factor, nor should a parent's desires to collect child support. Keep in mind that fighting for custody can often be time consuming and may even be harmful to the child emotionally. Should you decide to fight for custody, it is often important for you to hire an attorney who has experience with handling hearings/trials before a Court in which custody was an issue.
From the birth of your child, each parent has a duty to support their child. In Texas, the Court calculates child support according to the Texas Child Support Guideline Percentages which are based generally on what the non-custodial parent earns net each month in accordance with how many children they have a duty to provide support for. Taxes and certain other items are taken into account in calculating net resources for child support. Typically, a non-custodial parent must pay child support until the child turns 18 years old or graduates high school, whichever occurs last.
On September 1, 2013, the Texas Child Support Division of the Attorney General increased the cap on net resources for child support calculations. The cap increased from $7,500 to $8,550. The increase affects any child support case filed or pending after September 1, 2013.
Sample Comparison - Support Obligation
|Effective Date||Cap*||# of Children||Monthly|
|On or Before 8/31/2013||$7,500||2||$1,875|
*Net income using AG's tax charts
What are the guideline percentages?
The following percentages are presumed to be appropriate under the Texas Family Code:
Child Support Guideline Percentages
|Number of Children||Percentage|
|6||Not less than 40% of the obligor’s net resources|
Welcome to the Family! Adoption is a wonderful thing, but may be a complicated process in which several steps must be completed so it is important to hire a lawyer who knows the steps that need to be completed in the Adoption process. An adoption is a legal arrangement where parental rights are transferred from the natural or birth parents to the adoptive parents; the natural or birth parents must have their parental rights terminated. The adoptive parents become legally responsible for the child they adopt and they obtain all legal parental rights with regard to the child, as if the child were biologically born to them.
Modification of Court Orders
Either parent may file for a modification of custody, child support, medical support of children, or visitation after a final order has been signed by the Court. The Petition to Modify must be filed in the Court that last signed an order regarding the children.
Modification of child custody and visitation may be ordered if the circumstances of the child or one or both parents have materially and substantially changed or the current order has become unworkable or inappropriate. Additional procedural steps must be taken if a party seeks to modify a decree within one year of it being signed by the judge.
An order of child support may be modified at any time upon a showing of substantial change in circumstances or after three years from the original order if the amount of support would change by $100 per month or 20%.
Enforcement of Court Orders
Courts do not like to hear that a person is not following their Court Order and do not take a light view of persons not doing what they are supposed to due by law.
Many portions of the orders signed by family courts in Texas can result in contempt of court proceedings when the orders are violated. Some instances include:
- Failure to pay child support or provide health insurance
- Failure to pay spousal support (alimony enforcement)
- Not allowing child visitation
- Failure to return the child after a visit or returning the child several hours late
- Relocating without permission of the court
Judges have broad power to enforce orders once the person is found in contempt. Repercussions can include garnishment of wages, make-up visitation time and awarding of attorneys fees. For more serious cases or continued defiance, the judge can put the person in jail or award primary custody to the aggrieved parent.
A parent-child relationship between the father and child is created in a paternity case. In order to establish child support, custody, visitation and/or medical support of a child, a parent child relationship must be established. In most family law cases in which the parents were never married, paternity may be established through DNA testing by a Court Approved Testing Center. In cases in which the parents were or are married, then the husband of the mother at the time the child was born is presumed to be the legal father of the child. Therefore, if you know or suspect you are not the biological father of a child born to your wife during your marriage, you should file for denial of paternity.
There are certain legal steps that must be completed in order for a parent to get an order showing that the alleged or presumed father is not the biological or legal father of the child.