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Fort Worth, Texas Divorce Law Blog

State and federal cooporation for child support enforcement

A large part of the current president's financial agenda is to make drastic reductions in federal spending and pass down control to the Texas state level in most areas of government. However, the Child Support Technology Fund may be one program that shifts control to the federal government.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the White House have requested $63 million in the next fiscal year to help fund a program in which new technology would be used to better enforce and monitor child support account and payments. Once the new system is created, the federal government would allow states to have access to the system. Health and Human Services would no longer have to fund programs that the states try to run on their own.

HHS to set up central child monitoring system

Monitoring and collecting unpaid child support has been a persistent problem for lawmakers in Texas and around the country. The Family Support Act, which was passed by Congress in 1995, requires states to set up child support enforcement and collection systems, but efforts to comply have been stymied in many parts of the country by technology issues and budgetary constraints. However, the 2019 budget proposal from the Trump administration contains a proposal that seeks to tackle the issue by setting up a new fund.

The budget seeks $63 million to set up the Child Support Technology Fund. The money would be used to establish a central child support monitoring system that could then be used by states to track down noncustodial parents who have failed to meet their court-ordered child support obligations and collect what they owe. According to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Oval Office, a centralized system would save taxpayers about $800 million over 10 years.

Residency decisions are key to the divorce process

One of the first issues that Texas couples going through a marital split must face involves where to live during and after the divorce. Unfortunately, the timing usually coincides with the most emotionally turbulent period of marital dissolution. Judgment can be impaired by emotions and other distractions accompanying such a major life change. Divorcees must weigh logistical, emotional, and financial implications in order to make the best arrangements for themselves and their children.

While staying in the marital home is often desired, this can be complicated. The appeal is understandable as familiar surroundings can provide comfort and stability to children in the midst of great change. If the home is a focus of litigation, a judge could have to make the determination. The ability to qualify for mortgage assumption must be factored in to any efforts aimed at getting possession of the marital residence.

Does your custody order need a second look?

Since your divorce was finalized, you may have had many moments when you grew frustrated with your ex, especially concerning child custody arrangements. Perhaps your former spouse has disappointed the children on more than one occasion, or you don't want the children around his or her new romantic partner. Maybe the children are growing older, and their new schedules and interests make it difficult to maintain the court-ordered custody arrangement.

Whatever your reasons, you may be considering requesting a modification to your custody order. The most important things to remember about such an undertaking are that courts are reluctant to make modifications without serious reasons, but that changing the agreement without court approval gives you no legal standing.

How taxes will change after a divorce

When people in Texas get a divorce, their taxes will change. If the divorce was finalized by the last day of the calendar year, then each person should file taxes separately. If it was not yet final, they will need to choose between married filing separately or filing jointly.

If one person is required to pay alimony to the other person, that alimony payment is tax deductible. Taxes on alimony are paid by the recipient. If the couple has children, the parents will need to agree on who will take the dependent exemption. This goes to the custodial parent unless that parent signs a waiver that allows the noncustodial parent to use it. The parent who takes this exemption may also take the child credit as well as the American Opportunity higher education credit.

Emotions trouble young divorcees more than financial hurdles

Although divorce at any age presents people in Texas with difficult feelings, younger divorcees report less social support from their peers when their marriages end. With the age of first marriage rising, people who divorce in their 20s typically do not have any friends who have been through the experience. Most of their friends have not been married yet, and young divorcees feel uncomfortable discussing their divorces so soon after celebrating their weddings. Despite the emotional difficulties, young people typically avoid the complexities of property division that stress so many of their older counterparts facing divorce.

A divorce attorney familiar with divorces among Millennials said that their financial separations tend to be easy. The splitting spouses usually have similar income levels, and they may not have invested in real estate or businesses yet. Children might not be present to complicate the equation either.

Actor Jesse Williams ordered to pay more in support

Texas fans of the TV show "Grey's Anatomy" might be aware that one of its actors, Jesse Williams, has been going through a divorce. In January, a judge ordered an increase in the amount of child and spousal support paid by Williams. He was paying $33,242 monthly in support, and his payments will go up to over $50,000 each month.

Williams is also responsible for paying his ex-wife $50,000 for attorney fees. She will get half of his residuals from the time of their marriage in Sept. 2012 until the date they filed for divorce in April 2017. However, she will be responsible for property taxes, the mortgage and home equity on the family home.

The basics of child custody

There are two main ways in which a Texas parent can have custody of a child. The term legal custody refers to a parent who is responsible for making decisions related to a child's health, education and welfare. If a parent has physical custody of a child, then the child lives with that parent.

It is possible for a parent to have sole or joint custody of a child. If a parent has sole legal custody, then he or she alone can make decisions related to the child's welfare. When parents have sole physical custody, the kids will primarily live with that person. If parents have joint or alternating arrangements, mothers and fathers may both play a role in making decisions for the child. Depending on what the parenting plan looks like, the child may live with either parent.

Life after 50: For some, it includes divorce

If you're part of the baby boomer generation, you may recall a popular song from long ago entitled, "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" by rhythm and blues icon, Paul Simon. In fact, if you were to survey everyone in Texas who has navigated the divorce process, you may find there are also 50 (or more) reasons people tend to end their marriages. The number 50 is also key when talking about gray divorce, which is a rising trend where people age 50 or older end their marriages in court.

If someone were to ask you to write a list of the specific reasons you decided to divorce, could you do it? Some people are able to while others can't really place their fingers on exact causes, only that their marriages slowly declined and ultimately fizzled altogether. You may be somewhere in between with certain issues impacting your decision to call it quits.

Creating a co-parenting plan

Texas parents who go their separate ways have to work past any antagonism between them to make a parenting plan that prioritizes their children. Having the right parenting plan that addresses the children's needs is essential in helping the children adjust to life after the divorce. There are some steps parents can take to develop a co-parenting relationship that is effective and that will last a long time.

Collaborative attorneys may be a good choice for parents who want to avoid taking themselves and their children through an expensive and combative divorce process. Attorneys who have this type of experience may help their clients avoid excessive legal expenses, find a way to work together with a spouse and achieve settlement terms that please both parties.