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Fort Worth, Texas Divorce Law Blog

Points to consider before getting a divorce

A spouse in Texas who is considering a divorce may want to ask themselves a number of questions before starting the separation process. The answers might persuade them to remain in the marriage, but even if they do not, these points can give the person a clearer idea of how to move forward with the divorce.

A spouse should make sure they have clearly expressed their discontent in the relationship. People often ignore the things that are said to them. Couples might also want to discuss what their expectations are for one another in the relationship. An exercise in which both people write down what each of them needs to do to save the marriage might help both better understand the other's point of view.

Can you get a passport if you owe child support?

When noncustodial parents in Texas and around the country fail to pay their court-ordered child support payments, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service will likely become involved. This agency, which is part of the Department of the Treasury, is tasked with collecting delinquent federal and state debts, and there are several actions that they can take to encourage individuals to meet their financial obligations. In addition to holding back lottery winnings or state or federal income tax refunds, the BFS can deny the issuance of passports to noncustodial parents who owe back child support.

The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement notifies the Department of State when noncustodial parents owe more than $2,500 in back child support. The DOS then denies any applications for a U.S. passport made by these noncustodial parents and prevents any passports that have been issued to them from being used for travel. The DOS does not remove noncustodial parents from the Passport Denial Program automatically even when their child support arrears have fallen below $2,500.

Don't let your parental rights float away in the tide

Many parents in Texas are looking forward to summer vacation. Perhaps you're among those who have already started making plans for a trip to the beach with your children. If you recently divorced, this year's trip may be a bit different from those you enjoyed in previous years. That doesn't necessarily mean it won't be wonderful, only that your plans may have to align with certain child custody regulations.

By researching laws ahead of time and being willing to cooperate to keep your children's best interests at heart, your first summer vacation as a single parent may be the start of many new and lasting traditions. Traveling with children after divorce may include one or more court-ordered stipulations.

Child support payments increase with car registration program

A Texas program that does not permit people who owe child support to renew their vehicle registrations if they have fallen behind in the previous six months has been effective according to the Texas Attorney General's Child Support Division. A press release reports that $1.7 million has been paid in child support since the program's implementation in September 2016.

The office reported an average of $252 per case was collected, but $54,000 was the highest amount. A total of 3,852 parents had paid on 4,634 cases as of the end of March. For every $1 spent running the program, it collected more than $12.

Understanding pass-through and disregard

Texas parents who are attempting to collect child support may need to understand the process known as pass-through and disregard. This federal law primarily affects families that are receiving or have received Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. How a state chooses to enforce the law may affect how much of the collected child support is disbursed to families that have also received TANF assistance.

The federal government gives states broad rights to determine how they will handle the pass-through laws. According to the law, states may choose to withhold some, all or none of the child support they collect as reimbursement for TANF services. The state has the right to withhold as much money as necessary to cover the costs associated with assistance in order to offset state costs. Alternatively, the state may choose to pass through all or a portion of the collected support to custodial parents in addition to allowing them to receive full TANF benefits for as long as they qualify.

Ways of finding a noncustodial parent

It may sometimes be necessary to locate a noncustodial Texas parent because of a need to establish paternity, in order to collect child support or for some other reason. The state child support agency may assist in this process. Information such as the noncustodial parent's birth date and Social Security number may be helpful. With this information, the agency can search the Federal Parent Locator Service. The FPLS is able to crosscheck with a number of different agencies including the IRS, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Department of Defense.

Other potential resources for locating noncustodial parents include their friends and relatives, the postal service, employers, and police records. Once it is determined that the parent needs to be located, these sources must be accessed within 75 days. The process can also be repeated quarterly.

What is community property in a Texas divorce?

Two of the most commonly contested issues in a divorce are those pertaining to money and the children. When it comes to financial stability, the decisions you make and the agreements you reach will have a long-term impact on both your immediate and long-term post-divorce futures.

Texas is a community property state, which means that you need to be familiar with that term and what it means for you. Protecting your property rights begins by reaching out to an experienced family law attorney and seeking a complete understanding of your entitlements and options according to state law.

The impact of substance abuse on child custody

When Texas parents have substance abuse issues, it could impact their ability to have possession or access to a child. Substance abuse could refer either to an alcohol problem or an addition to any illegal substance. Authorities may get involved in the matter if a complaint is filed with either the court that issued the custody order or to the Department of Family and Protective Services.

First, the court will investigate the allegation to make sure that it is true. It will also look to see how a substance abuse problem could interfere with the parent's ability to care for the child. In any child custody matter, the top priority is protecting the best interest of the child. In addition to considering current issues with substance abuse, a court may look at prior periods of substance abuse if applicable.

Star of "Vanderpump Rules" must pay $50,000 to ex-husband

Texas fans of the show "Vanderpump Rules" might be aware that one of its stars, Scheana Shay, has been going through a divorce. Scheana filed for divorce in California in November 2016. The date of separation was listed as Nov. 9.

The two were together for about 15 years. A statement released by the two described their split as "amicable" and speculation about it as "misguided."

How courts may take children's wishes into consideration

As Texas kids get older, sharing time between their divorced parents can become more difficult, especially as the children begin to express where they would prefer to spend their time. However, the judge may take the children's opinion into consideration under some circumstances when resolving the child custody dispute.

Although the children's wishes may be considered initially, they may not be considered if the court does not believe that living with the noncustodial parent will be in the children's best interests. If there is no custody agreement but the co-parents can agree, the children may be given the ability to choose who they live with without having to go through the court system.