Child Custody and Support

Perhaps the most difficult and carefully considered issues in a divorce have to do with the children.

Matters often addressed include

Please review the brief summary provided here and contact me to discuss the facts of your case.

Joint versus individual custody

The customary approach in Texas is to appoint both parents as Joint Managing Conservators, with one designated "primary". The distinction usually, but not always, confers control over the primary residence and receipt of child support.

Sole custody can be granted in cases involving family violence, sexual abuse or incarceration of a parent. Return to top.

Child's residence and visitation

Texas statutes set forth a "standard possession order" as a starting point and guideline for determining the child's residency and visitation. The primary conservator is typically restricted to maintaining residency in specified counties, and is subject to certain procedures and approvals if he/she wants to relocate the child's residence outside that area. Moving the child without the court's approval is a violation of the court's orders.

Visitation procedures are also established, to include very specific conditions on frequency, locations and manner of transfer, and special occasions such as holidays and birthdays. Two sets of procedures are established, one if the parents live within 100 miles of each other and one for residences more than 100 miles apart. Each parent's rights and responsibilities differ, depending on which one moved outside of the area.

Residence and visitation issues can also bear on child support. For instance, interference with visitation is not grounds for withholding support. Return to top.

Child support

Again, Texas statutes establish minimum guidelines for determining child support paid to the primary conservator or sole custody parent. The parties may mutually agree to exceed these guidelines, for either the amount paid or the period of time covered.

Child support payments are made to and transferred by a state agency, facilitating enforcement of the support order. For instance, failure to make payments as agreed risks certain state-issued licenses.

While the calculation is primarily based on the parent's ability to pay, factors such as special needs (e.g., medical or educational expenses) are addressed in setting (or revising) the amount of child support.

The basis for calculating support is net resources, or income minus allowed expenses.

Income consists of salary and wages (including commissions, overtime, tips, self-employment income, etc.), investment income (such as dividends, net rental income, capital gains, annuities, etc.) and other payments (such as severance pay, retirement, social security, gifts and prizes, unemployment compensation, spousal support, etc.).

Net resources are calculated by deducting allowable expenses such as federal taxes (using only one deduction), social security taxes, state income tax, union dues, and the cost of the child's health insurance.

Determination of income and net resources can change with updates to the law and appeals decisdions. Consult your attorney for the proper application of facts in your case.

The minimum child support payment is then calculated on the basis of the number of children, as follows:

Except for certain circumstances relating to completing high school or the need for long-term care, child support obligations for that child end at each child's eighteenth birthday. Return to top.

Return to Preparing for Divorce.

 

I understand that divorce is both a legal and personal process.

My job is to manage the legal process to protect and extend my client's interests- allowing them the room to address the personal issues.

 

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Unless otherwise indicated, attorneys listed in this site are not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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Ms. Asher practices Family Law and Collaborative Family Law in Harris County, Ft. Bend County and Montgomery County, Texas.