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Fort Worth, Texas Divorce Law Blog

When parents paying child support face financial crisis

Parents in Texas want to provide for their children, and child support can be an important part of that picture. Child support payments help to make sure that children are able to maintain a decent lifestyle, and kids whose parents pay support are more likely to stay out of poverty. However, child support determinations are based on parental income. Parents can't pay more than they make, after all. Payments should reflect the income of the parents at the time the order was made, but parents' fortunes can change over time. In particular, parents who fall ill, develop a disability or lose their jobs may face severe financial hardship and be unable to pay their child support bills.

When parents cannot pay child support, they can find themselves facing serious legal and financial problems. Child support debt generally cannot be discharged even in personal bankruptcy. In addition, parents can find themselves facing wage garnishment. They may not be able to receive passports, and some might even face jail time. For people dealing with illness or disability, this can make their situation even worse. However, child support payments do not have to stay the same when parents are unable to pay.

Challenges of paying child support

Many noncustodial parents in Texas may struggle to meet their child support obligations. While the terms "deadbeat dad" and "deadbeat mom" are often used to describe parents who do not pay their child support as ordered in court, they may not always be accurate. In many cases, parents may be struggling with overall financial problems and difficulties rather than seeking to avoid child support specifically. After all, people cannot discharge child support debt in bankruptcy, so the hefty support bills may remain even for people who lose almost everything due to a financial crisis.

Of course, many people think of fathers as being the primary deadbeat parents. This is an unfair assumption, as mothers are also noncustodial parents and many also fail to live up to their child support obligations. Statistically, more men are noncustodial parents than women, but custody decisions vary widely due to the circumstances of each individual family. The term "deadbeat" implies that the parent could pay but chooses not to, but many people with overdue child support bills have lost their jobs, become disabled or suffered other circumstances. Overdue or unpaid child support can come with hefty penalties, like wage garnishment, inability to obtain a passport, seized tax refunds or even jail time.

The traits that good parents possess

Children tend to do better after a divorce when their parents get along. When this is the case, they tend to agree about issues such as where a child will go to school or where the child will receive medical treatment. While they are as flexible as possible about parenting time, parents who work well together generally stick to a set schedule. This is ideal because it can minimize conflict and create a sense of stability for the child.

Parents who work well together understand that a child needs both of them in his or her life. Therefore, an individual won't take steps to prevent a son or daughter from having a relationship with the other parent. Whenever possible, both parents will attend school or other events involving their child. Furthermore, there will be little or no tension when they are together at sporting events or other social gatherings.

Dealing with credit cards during a divorce

When Texas couples decide to divorce, they may be concerned about taking a credit hit during the property division process. Marital status is not a factor considered by the credit bureaus, so a divorce itself would not necessarily damage each individual's credit rating. However, joint accounts and the process of dividing assets and debts can pose some unique challenges. In general, spouses agree as to how different assets and debts will be handled in the divorce, and one ex may be given responsibility for paying off a joint card.

However, it can be important for spouses to close joint accounts before the divorce is finalized and transfer the debt to a new card in the responsible party's name alone. After all, the divorce agreement does not bind the credit card company. This means that if an ex fails to pay the agreed amount after a divorce settlement, the creditor can go after the other partner. The results would be just as negative for both parties' credit scores. Each spouse can apply for their individual cards before closing the joint accounts. This could prevent a temporary score dip from hindering their credit reports.

Adele seeking joint custody of son in divorce

Texas fans of Adele might be interested to learn that she is trying to work out a child custody agreement with her estranged husband, Simon Konecki. The 31-year-old British singer filed for divorce in Los Angeles on Sept. 12, citing irreconcilable differences.

According to various U.K. media reports, Adele and Konecki didn't enter into a prenuptial agreement before they got married. As a result, Konecki could be entitled to up to 50% of her earnings under California law. However, a spousal support agreement is scheduled to handled through mediation, according to the divorce filing. As for the couple's 6-year-old son, the Grammy winner has requested joint custody and physical possession of him.

How incarceration can impact child support

Parents who owe child support in Texas or any other state could still be liable for making payments while in jail. In some cases, a judge may be willing to review an existing support order before either the custodial or noncustodial parent begins their sentence. An individual could be required to continue making payments according to the original agreement depending on the circumstances in a given matter.

For instance, a person could be required to use passive income or savings to provide for a child while in custody. The parent could also be required to sell assets or to sell portions of an investment portfolio to provide financially for a son or daughter. It's possible to ask the judge to issue a contempt order if the noncustodial parent is in jail. However, the noncustodial parent will have to prove that it isn't possible to make child support payments as ordered.

How to handle drama in a custody case

Parents in Texas and elsewhere may experience high levels of conflict after a divorce is finalized. These conflicts could revolve around who should get custody of the child or how decisions should be made after a custody order is created. Ideally, children will get to spend time with both parents, and the adults should do their best to focus less on themselves and more on the needs of their kids.

When a conflict arises, it may be possible to come to a compromise without the need to go to court. If this is not possible, a judge can examine the evidence in a given matter and make a ruling. Generally speaking, a judge is going to want to do what is in the child's best interest and with minimal interruption to the child's life. Ideally, parents will document their efforts to communicate with each other prior to coming to court.

How to minimize asset loss in a divorce

Texas residents could put their retirement and financial future at risk by getting a divorce. One woman says that she lost nearly $1 million in retirement savings after she divorced her husband after 15 years together. A series of events after the divorce required her to spend about $200,000 in legal fees, and the woman claims that the money could have grown to $1 million if put into a retirement account.

Furthermore, she had to work to pay down the debt that was incurred during the divorce. Ultimately, the woman believes that she and her husband would have been able to retire at age 50 with millions of dollars in the bank if the divorce hadn't occurred. The couple did not have a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married. Going to court as opposed to a mediator to settle the divorce was another reason cited as to why the divorce was so costly.

Business owners and divorce

Business owners in Texas and around the country often invest a great deal of time and money into their companies. When an owner finds himself or herself faced with a divorce, the future of the business is often a significant concern.

When a couple divorces, every aspect of their lives is subject to scrutiny. This includes finances, and a business is considered an asset when it comes to negotiating a monetary settlement. One of the best ways to protect a business in a divorce is to have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that clearly defines what will happen to a business and its assets should a marriage come to an end.

Denial of visitation rights

Parents in Texas and around the country generally love their children and value their time with them. Unfortunately, there are situations in which a divorce leaves a parent without access to his or her children. This may be because a family law court has decided to stop visitation or a custodial parent is refusing to allow the other parent access to the kids.

Family law courts seldom completely prevent parents from visiting their children. This is because judges understand that it is important for children and their parents to have a relationship. If a court does choose to end or restrict visitation, is it typically because the court believes that it is in the best interests of the children to have limited or no contact with that parent.