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Bryan Texas Family Law Blog

How to increase your chances of gaining primary custody

If you are a father in Texas and are going through the divorce process, custody of your children is probably top of mind. While in the past, mothers were typically seen as the primary caregivers, things are different now. The judge looks at a number of factors and takes into consideration what is best for the child. If you understand what is important, you may be able to make changes or focus on the factors that will help increase your chances of getting more time with your children.

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the court determines custody decisions based on what is best for the child. It looks at the ability of each parent to provide basics such as adequate food, a safe home, clothing and healthcare. It also weighs the mental and physical health of the parents and the child. In Texas, some other factors the judge considers include

  • History of abuse or substance abuse
  • Care and discipline that is appropriate for child's age and development
  • Adequate support system made up of close friends and extended family
  • The age of the child

What factors are considered when calculating child support

Entering in to the divorce process can be overwhelming, especially when there are children involved. Depending on what type of custody arrangement is ordered, the you may be required to pay child support. Child support is designed to ensure children receive the same financial support that they would have been exposed to if you had not filed for divorce.

In Texas, the amount of child support owed is based on the non-custodial parent’s income, without consideration of how much money the custodial parent makes. Texas is one of three states in the nation that uses a varying percentage model of determining the child support amount to be included in the final divorce settlement. The judge presiding over the case may also look at certain factors when determining these child support payments. These factors include the following:

  •          The ability of each parent to contribute to the children
  •          The amount of time the children spend with each parent
  •          The age of the children, as well as any special needs they may have
  •          Whether any alimony is ordered in the divorce
  •          Any extenuating medical or educational needs the children may have
  •          Any daycare funds needed

Do you need a forensic accountant on your divorce team?

As someone currently involved in a Texas divorce, you may be working through the process of separating your assets from your spouse’s so you can begin to plan for life on your own. If you are also a high-income earner, or if you have reason to believe your spouse may not be upfront with you when it comes to his or her income and assets, you may want to consider adding a forensic accountant to your divorce team.

These financial professionals, per Forbes, are taking an increasingly active role in many modern divorce cases, and they may be able to assist you as you navigate any number of different financial issues. For example, a forensic accountant may be able to help you and your former spouse appraise assets of undetermined value so that you can split them up accordingly. This may prove especially necessary if you or your spouse have, say, a large collection of artwork or collectibles, or if one party in the marriage has business or other interests in other cities, states or nations.

Can you modify your child custody arrangement?

Divorces involving children can be extremely difficult, especially when it comes to creating a parenting plan that meets the best interests of the child. It can be overwhelming to schedule parenting time that benefits your child, as well as everyone else that is involved. Once your parenting plan is customized in the final divorce settlement, you may feel as though it is set in stone. Yet, certain life circumstances may constitute a change in your child custody arrangement. Parenting plans may change several times throughout a child’s life. As a child grows, their needs and interests change, and parenting plans must also change to adapt to this new schedule.

In fact, there are several situations in which a child custody modification order may be necessary. For example, if your parenting plan is created when your children were toddlers, the schedule will change when your children start school. Furthermore, if either parent loses a job, moves away, becomes incarcerated, remarries, loses a home or experiences another dramatic life change, the order may need to be adjusted as well.

Spending time with both parents may be best for kids

With more than half of all marriages ending in divorce, it is not uncommon for children to be in split families and forced into different parenting arrangements. While some children spend equal amounts of time with both parents, others live in the sole-custody of one primary parent. In many cases, mothers are put in the position of primary caretakers and are awarded sole physical custody of the children in divorce cases. However, many studies show the importance of both fathers and mothers and the critical roles they play in children’s lives.

The Father Involvement Research Alliance reviewed a number of studies and found that children with actively engaged fathers are more confident in new situations, are emotionally secure and are willing to explore their surroundings. Kids with involved fathers often do better academically, are less aggressive, and have less impulsivity. In the long-term, these children have more successful careers, experience a better psychological well-being, longer marriages, stronger social networks and overall better health.

Dads often get the short end of the parenting stick

By now, most divorced dads in Texas understand that single parenting can be a challenge. Depending on the divorce agreement, you might only get to see your kids on the weekends, or you might have 50/50 custody but your ex is sabotaging every moment of time you have with your children. At the Law Office of Brian Turner, we know that there is a term for the latter – it’s called parental alienation syndrome, and it’s far from uncommon.

Psychology Today defines parental alienation syndrome as the deliberate attempt by one parent to restrict the children’s time with the other parent or to turn the children against him or her. If this is happening to you, you may know that it doesn’t just hurt you – your children are also hurt when they aren’t allowed to have a close relationship with you, and the tactics your ex uses to alienate them from you can cause lifelong emotional damage to them.

How divorce mediation works in Texas

If you are beginning the divorce process in Texas, chances are that, at some stage, you will participate in mediation or another form of collaborative law. Though Texas law does not technically require divorce mediation, many county courts and/or individual judges have a policy of sending litigants to mediation, especially if the case involves children.

Mediation can offer a variety of benefits to a divorcing couple, as well as alleviate the burden on a court's schedule and resources. Knowing how the process works can help you approach it constructively.

Understanding the 2018 alimony deduction

At the Law Office of Brian Turner in Texas, one of the most frequent questions we hear at this time of the year from people paying spousal support is whether or not they can deduct these payments on their federal income tax returns. Conversely, one of the most frequent questions we hear from people receiving spousal support is whether or not they must declare these payments as income on their federal income tax returns.

As the Muller Company, a CPA firm, explains, up until Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December of 2017, you could deduct the alimony payments you made and had to declare them as income if you received them. That still holds true for your 2018 federal income tax returns if, in fact, you and your former spouse finalized your separation or divorce prior to December 31, 2018.

What are the major factors in a Texas property settlement?

As you contemplate getting a Texas divorce, you would do well to familiarize yourself with Texas law pertaining to property settlement agreements. As you probably already know, Texas is a community property state, meaning that in general, Texas considers all property you and your spouse have accumulated during your marriage to be marital property owned jointly by the two of you. What you may not realize, however, but as FindLaw points out, is that this does not mean that you and your spouse must divide your marital property, i.e., your community property, exactly half and half when you divorce.

What a divorce judge looks for in any property settlement agreement that you and your spouse come to is that it treats not only both of you fairly, but also your children. Thus, any property either of you acquired during your marriage while living in another state must only be divided fairly, not precisely equally. This rule also applies to any property either of you acquired in exchange for other property. Normally all such property would constitute Texas marital property if it constituted marital property in the state in which you acquired it, but these are the two exceptions.

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