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Who qualifies for child support in Texas?

There is no denying it -- kids are expensive. From yearly school supplies to new clothes to fees for extracurricular activities, the cost of raising a child in Texas can sometimes seem astronomical. Child support is an essential tool for parents who are divorced or are raising their child without the help of the other parent. However, exactly which parent qualifies for support payments is not always clear.

In the vast majority of cases, the parent with primary custody is eligible for child support. In cases where parents have divorced and established a custody arrangement, it is obvious who the custodial parent is, but it can be less clear for parents who were never married. In such cases, courts will consider who the child lives with and which parent takes on the majority of parenting tasks.

What if I need to modify a child custody order?

Texas courts issue child custody orders after carefully considering whether they promote the best interests of the children. However, circumstances can change. Whether the changes happen to the child's needs or the parents' circumstances, you may find yourself needing to ask the court to modify the terms of the original order.

It is important to get an official modification. Parents who just change the arrangements informally can later find themselves facing problems if the other parent no longer wants to go along with the change.

Divorce? Millennials may be more protected than past generations

Marriage is about the union of two people in love, yes, but some millennials also understand something else -- marriage is a legal contract with obligations from both parties. More than past generations, millennials in Texas seem to be interested in prenuptial agreements and the protections that these valuable documents afford. In the case of divorce, these individuals tend to have more to protect as well as more to protect themselves from.

Over the last three years, 50 percent of surveyed lawyers told the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers that they have seen an increase in prenuptial agreements from people between the ages of 18 and 34. So is this simply because this generation is more self-centered than their parents? Not according to some experts.

Divorce and retirement -- are you ready?

From who gets the house to how debt should be split, people often feel like they must make dozens of tiny financial decisions when ending their marriage. In many ways this can be an emotionally exhaustive period, but it is important to stay on top of this process through the very end of a divorce. Otherwise, Texas divorcees could risk their financial security for retirement.

Although divorce is usually the most appropriate course of action for couples who are no longer happy in their marriages, there are potential financial pitfalls. This is especially true when it comes to retirement. Decades of retirement savings can be knocked off course, leaving some unsure whether they will be able to retire at the age they had originally planned to do so. The Center for Retirement Research recently noted that 57 percent of divorced households will not be financially prepared for divorce compared to 50 percent of households that have never experienced a divorce.

A child protection defense team can keep your child with family

For Texas parents, there is nothing worse than being accused of compromising the well-being of your children. Sadly, this is the reality that many loving parents face every day. When dealing with these types of allegations, it is essential for parents to work with a qualified child protection defense team, which will ensure that the involved child's best interests are respected and that the parent's rights are also upheld.

Any type of allegation involving children is treated seriously, and understandably so. Children need caring and compassionate advocates on their side, and when authorities have reason to believe that parents are not taking on that role, it is sometimes necessary to temporarily remove them. However, the mental impact of separating parents and their children cannot be overlooked.

Slash submits settlement that includes spousal, child support

Texas fans of Guns N' Roses might be most familiar with guitarist Slash for his musical prowess, but the rock star has been in headlines most recently for his ongoing divorce. After approximately four years, proceedings seem to finally be coming to an end. He recently asked a judge to approve a settlement that addresses asset division, spousal support and child support.

Slash, whose real name is Saul Hudson, originally filed divorce papers back in 2014. The filing came after thirteen years of marriage to Perla Ferrar. Although exact details of the divorce are not clear, Slash claims that Ferrar has made the process more difficult than necessary by purposely drawing out proceedings and providing slow responses on important matters.

Dogs can make divorce complicated

There is no denying how far some owners in Texas will go for their animals. From researching the most nutritious foods to making sure their beloved pets are up-to-date with vaccinations, many cats and dogs are like fully-fledged family members. However, family law does not view beloved pets as anything more than property, which can severely complicate the divorce process.

Couples beginning their journey through divorce sometimes expect to set up custody arrangements similar to child custody agreements, and are shocked to discover that this is far from the case. Much like a shared home or other property that can be divided or sold with the dividends shared, the family dog is seen as nothing more than property. This does not stop some pet parents from handling pet ownership in their own fashion.

How parental alienation negatively affects children

Navigating your way through a Texas divorce is never easy, but it can prove especially difficult if there are harsh feelings remaining between you and your former partner. In some situations, among them divorces that involve allegations of cheating, you or your former partner may make negative comments about your child’s other parent in front of your son or daughter. When this happens regularly, it may constitute “parental alienation,” which is essentially one parent’s efforts to change the child’s opinion about the other by bad mouthing or sharing negative information about him or her.

According to Psychology Today, parental alienation occurs in about 1 percent of all divorces. In less-severe instances of parental alienation, one parent may encourage the shared child to choose sides between parents, which might involve making decisions about whom to spend vacations with, for example. In severe cases, one parent might make efforts to establish a sharp divide between the child and the other parent while encouraging the child’s rejection of that parent.

I have a prenup, will the new tax law affect my divorce?

Prenuptial agreements are a valuable tool for individuals with significant assets that they wish to protect. Many Texas couples utilize these agreements to establish the terms of a divorce should their marriage end, which includes addressing future alimony payments. With new tax changes set to take place in 2019, some people are worried about the effect on their prenups.

Although prenups are now increasingly common across every income level, the highest earners still create the majority of agreements. Most of these high-earners set forth who will pay alimony and how much. However, alimony plans made before the announcement of the new tax plan may no longer be realistic. For instance, the tax change means that, effective with divorces finalized after Jan. 1, 2019, a high-income partner who agreed to a $10,000 per month alimony schedule would suddenly be on the hook for nearly $20,000 a month.

Preparing to announce plans to divorce

People often ignore the signs for months or even years. Still, there comes a moment when a spouse realizes the marriage is no longer working. What then? Divorce is a drastic step and affects nearly every area of one's life. This is why it is important that Texas spouses considering divorce take some steps to protect themselves before making their plans for divorce official.

The first step many advisors recommend is seeking legal counsel. This may not be as easy as hiring the first attorney one meets, and careful consideration of the choice of lawyer can set the tone for the rest of the process. Next, it is important for any divorcing spouse to have a clear a thorough picture of his or her finances, including assets and debts. It is critical that a spouse considering divorce protect him or herself by gathering copies of all financial records and closing any joint accounts.

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Law Office of Jacqueline McNutt
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