Is My Child Support Going Up?

            Effective September 1, 2013, the cap on child support in Texas increased $1,050.  You may be asking yourself, “Will my child support go up too?”

            That depends.  Child support is based on a percentage of net resources.  Net resources is gross monthly income minus several mandatory deductions.  The main deductions include social security taxes, federal income tax, (based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deduction), state income tax, union dues, and expenses for health insurance of the child. 

            Then net resources, the difference between gross monthly income and deductions, is multiplied by the applicable rate.  For instance, if you have one child it’s 20% of net resources; two children 25%; three children 30%; four children 35%; five children 40%, and if you have six or more children, then it’s not less than 40%.  However, if you have the duty to support other children that are not before the court, the above percentages will be reduced.  

            Although there are some exceptions, for the most part a cap means that you won’t be charged at the applicable rate above the cap amount.  Up until September, that percentage only applied to monthly net resources up to $7,500.  Now that percentage applies to monthly net resources until $8,550.  

            For some individuals who make more than $7,500, this means that you will continue to be charged your current amount of child support plus an additional amount at the applicable percentage for amounts over $7,500 up until $8,550.   

            On the other hand, for a small percentage of parents though, $8,550 may not even be the cap.  As always, the court can order child support over $8,550 based on proven needs of the child and the income of the parties.  Proven needs are not limited to the “bare necessities of life” and not determined by the parent’s ability to pay or lifestyle of the family.  Some of the needs that may be proven include but are not limited to costs for extracurricular activities (i.e. sports, church activities, and music lessons), car/transportation expenses, cell phones, cable, internet, tutoring, medical expenses including counseling and special medical therapies, and many more. 

            But this doesn’t mean that everyone who makes more than $7,500 will be affected.  First, the amount of support can only change if the child support order is modified.  If the other parent doesn’t petition the court for a modification, then your child support will stay the same.     

Second, parties can also agree to child support below the guidelines as long as the amount isn’t so low that it is not in the best interests of the child. 

            In summary, just because the child support cap has increased doesn’t mean that your child support will increase too—it depends on your situation.  To determine what your new liabilities may be or to determine if seeking a modification is right for you, contact experienced family law attorney Chante Prox at (817)-649-2700.      

            Disclaimer:  This information should not be considered as legal advice.  Decisions should be based on consultation with a licensed attorney.  This blog is for informative purposes only. 

Chante Prox is a family law attorney and mediator practicing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area @ www.barnesproxlaw.com

             

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Two ways to marry and two ways to divorce

           Did you know that there are two ways to get married and two ways to end a marriage?  Texas defines marriage as a civil contract between a man and woman.  Unlike most contracts, however, a marriage contract can only be terminated by state intervention (divorce) or death.

            There are two ways to get married in Texas—ceremonial marriage and common-law marriage.  A ceremonial marriage is probably the type of marriage that you are most familiar with.  To have a ceremonial you must get a marriage license, wait at least 72 hours (unless an exception applies), and then have a ceremony.  That’s it!  Texas doesn’t require any particular type of ceremony for a marriage to be valid.

            The second way to get married is through an informal marriage.  An informal marriage, better known as a common-law marriage, requires that the parties both be at least 18 years old and meet three requirements:

            (1)  They must agree to be married,

            (2)  After the agreement they must cohabit (no minimum time requirement), and

            (3)  They must hold themselves out to others as married.

            Common-law marriage is a slippery slope.  People risk “accidentally” having a common-law marriage by doing some of the following: calling each other husband and wife; acknowledging your children as legitimate; filing joint tax returns; claiming you are married for immigration or health insurance purposes; co-signing promissory notes; wearing rings on left fingers; telling friends that you are married; using “Mr” and “Mrs” on hotel, airline, and other documents; allowing others to refer to you as “daughter-in-law,” “son-in-law,” etc.

            Unless the court holds that the marriage was void or voidable, there are only two ways to end a marriage—death or divorce.  The only other exception is that in a common-law marriage there is a rebuttable presumption that the parties didn’t enter into an agreement to marry if they don’t bring suit to prove the common-law marriage within two years of separating.  This means that if you don’t file for divorce within two years, it is as if the marriage never happened.  And you could be losing out on property rights.

            Basically, as you can see, it’s easier to get married than it is to end the marriage.  If you need to end a marriage or help with validating an informal marriage, experienced divorce attorney Chante Prox can help.  Call (817) 649-2700 today to make an appointment for a consultation.

            Disclaimer:  This information should not be considered as legal advice.  Decisions should be based on consultation with a licensed attorney.  This blog is for informative purposes only.