Divorce often involves a complex web of emotional and financial considerations. With respect to the latter, two issues that are often sticking points include child support and spousal support. Ideally, the parties can reach an amicable solution.
At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we can help you reach that solution. Our experienced Galveston family law attorneys assist individuals in Galveston County to understand the law governing child support and spousal support in Texas. We can review your situation and give you an honest appraisal of how much you can expect to receive (or pay) in support.
Child Support in Texas
Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code establishes the legal rules that a court must follow in ordering child support. A judge can order either or both parents to pay support until the child is 18 or graduates high school, whichever is later. In cases where the child was disabled before reaching 18 years of age, the court may order a parent to continue paying child support “for an indefinite period”.
Texas has basic guidelines for calculating child support based on a parent’s net income. But a judge may vary from the guidelines if he determines it is in the “best interest of the child”. The Family Code specifies 17 separate factors that a judge may consider when making such a determination.
How Will My Taxes Be Affected?
In the case of divorce, knowing who is financially responsible for the child can be figured out with the court and your spouse/ex-spouse in a form of pre-marital agreements or simply working together through the process. However, knowing how paying child support will affect your taxes for both parties is very important.
You must know that only one parent can claim the child(ren) on their taxes, depending on who is supporting who. The IRS will cross-check the Social Security Number of the children listed as dependents before processing returns for either you or your former spouse. If it all clears, there is nothing to worry about. If the cross-check comes back and shows both parents have claimed the same child on their tax statements when they can legally claim one of them, the IRS will more than likely require the documents to be re-filed or re-submitted.
Similar to claiming a child for your taxes, the spouse claiming the child must will need to make sure they meet a handful of requirements including, but not limiting to, the child living with the parent for at least 6 months of the tax year and the parent providing more than 50% of support to said child. More information on certain situations regarding this can be discussed with our child support attorney. These requirements may not be applicable to all depending on the situation at hand.
What If I’m Unmarried And Living Together?
This question can come up and can be simply answered by saying that the parent that is able to claim the child in question (for tax related purposes) is the parent who provided more than 50% of that child’s support for that tax year. While this is the general rule, this can be further discussed with an attorney to make sure there is no confusion, issues, or mis-inheritance/support for the children in the family.
Spousal Support in Texas
Alimony, or spousal support can be a temporary or a permanent awarded that is part of a divorce decree. Spousal support–technically known as “maintenance” in Texas–is designed to be a temporary award to help one spouse provide for his or her “minimum reasonable needs” following a divorce. When it comes to awarding alimony or spousal support, the judge will look at a handful of factors, one of which being how long the couple was married for. Typically, the longer the marriage the better chance of alimony being awarded.
Except in cases involving domestic violence, the spouse seeking alimony must demonstrate financial need. Under Section 8.051 of the Family Code, there are three basic situations where financial need exists:
- The requesting spouse an “incapacitating physical or mental disability”;
- The parties were married at least 10 years and the requesting spouse “lacks the ability to earn sufficient income”; or
- The requesting spouse must care for a child of the marriage who suffers from a disability that requires “substantial care” and prevents the spouse from working outside the home.
As with child support, there are a number of statutory factors that a court will examine when deciding how much spousal support to order, if any. But remember, the burden of proof is on the requesting spouse to rebut the legal resumption that maintenance is unnecessary.
How Is Spousal Support Distributed?
There are three main ways alimony -spousal support- is distributed:
- Lump-Sum Payment: with lump-sum payment, these are generally “non-modifiable”. This means that they cannot be adjusted down the road, ended, or reversed.
- Property Transfer: this is quite similar to the lump-sum payment option where it’s very difficult to adjust once it’s been awarded.
- Periodic Monthly Payments: this type of award has an end date that is either chosen by the judge or when a significant life event occurs. These events could be some of the following: the spouse receiving support remarries, cohabitates, either spouse passes away, other event that a judge determines is a valid reason to terminate the periodic monthly payments.
Need Help Establishing, Contesting, or Modifying a Support Order?
The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates represents clients on both sides of child support and spousal support disputes. In many cases we also help seek modification of existing support orders. Whatever your situation, contact us today at (281) 280-0100 if you live in Galveston or League City and would like to schedule a consultation.
Contacting us will only take a moment of your day
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