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This may seem crazy to most people, but under current Texas law children under the age of 16 can get married in Texas with consent of one parent and approval from a judge. There has been no floor on the age that a child can get married in Texas meaning that it is entirely up to a judge as to whether it is appropriate for a child to get married. After September 1st of this year that will no longer be true as a result of the signing of Senate Bill 1705 by Governor Abbott. Texas will have an absolute floor of 16 years old for marriage. People under the age of 18 but older than 16 will have to have a judge consent to marry under the new law.

If you are involved in any type of dispute involving child support in Texas you have probably been given advice from well-meaning family and friends about what your options and rights are. Unfortunately, some advice that may have been accurate in the past may not be accurate now and because each family law case presents a unique fact situation even completely accurate statements about something that happened to another person may not matter in your case. So, here are 10 child support misconceptions that we would like to clear up:

  1. The guy is always going to be ordered to pay child support.

The Family Code in Texas is gender-neutral. There is nothing in the code that presumes that the mother should be with the child the majority of the time and there is nothing in the code that says that the father should be the one paying child support. In many cases parties are able to prove that it would be in the child’s best interest to spend the majority of the time with the father and the mother should be the one paying child support. This is obviously a very fact-sensitive issue and it may seem to a lot of people that the dad is always the one ordered to pay child support, but that is not a requirement under Texas law.

What is a standing order?

New standing orders were issued from Dallas County on January 1, 2017. If you are familiar with any type of family law case in recent years, especially in Dallas County, hopefully you are familiar with what “standing orders” are in general. If you need a refresher, they are basically orders that the judges agree are a good thing to apply to all family law cases that must be attached to any petitions filed in the county. The standing orders apply to the parties while the case is pending. In the broad sense, the standing orders are meant to prevent the parties from acting badly while a divorce is ongoing.

To see the full standing orders, please follow this link: Dallas County Standing Orders.

What is Jurisdiction?

Jurisdiction is the ability for a court to hear a case. When two states are involved, the states must decide which court more rightfully has jurisdiction to hear the case so that there are not conflicting orders out of two different courts in two different states. Under the uniform child custody jurisdiction and enforcement act, which Texas has adopted into its family code, a trial court can have jurisdiction over a child custody case under certain circumstances laid out in section 152.201.

Even when a trial court has this jurisdiction under 152.201 of the family code, the court can still defer jurisdiction to another jurisdiction if the court considers itself an “inconvenient forum.” This inconvenient forum provision is codified in section 152.207. The court is supposed to consider certain factors when making this determination that include: (1) whether domestic violence has occurred and is likely to continue in the future and which state could best protect the parties and the child; (2) the length of time the child has resided outside this state; (3) the distance between the court in this state and the court in the state that would assume jurisdiction; (4) the relative financial circumstances of the parties; (5) any agreement of the parties as to which state should assume jurisdiction; (6) the nature and location of the evidence required to resolve the pending litigation, including testimony of the child; (7) the ability of the court of each state to decide the issue expeditiously and the procedures necessary to present the evidence; and (8) the familiarity of the court of each state with the facts and issues in the pending litigation.

What is the Maximum Amount of Child Support I Can Be Ordered to Pay in Texas?

 
            It would be really easy to answer the question of what the maximum amount of child support possible is if the Texas Legislature had decided to put an absolute cap in the family code on the amount of child support, but unfortunately or fortunately depending on where you may be situated in a family law case, there is not absolute cap on child support in Texas. This issue was taken up before the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas on March 9, 2017 in the case In the Interest of V.J.A.O., A Child, where the court re-affirmed that the statutory guidelines allow for courts to consider relevant factors when setting child support and that trial courts have discretion to set child support amounts above what is presumed to be in the best interest of the child under the family code.

What are the Statutory Guidelines?

The Texas Family Code requires that a child in the conservatorship of DFPS attend all permanency hearings. This section also requires that if the court determines it is in the best interest of the child, and the child is older than four, that the court must consult with the child in a developmentally appropriate manner regarding the permanency plan. However, Texas courts do not consistently require children to attend permanency hearings.

Why aren’t children attending the hearings? 

The code has an exception that states that judges can make an individual determination that excuses a child from attending a specific hearing. Apparently,  many judges are deciding that it is not necessary for the children to be at the hearings. Of course, issues with school attendance and actually getting children to court are factors that contribute to children not being able to attend permanency hearings, but options like video conferencing and the fact that a child attending court while in foster care is an excused absence should help to alleviate any of these problems.

What is a direct Payment?

A direct payment is any payment that is made outside of payments made to the State Disbursement Unit in San Antonio. Most child-support orders require that all payments be made directly to the State Disbursement Unit in order to satisfy a child-support obligation. In fact, if a child-support order has an income withholding order, which most do, then federal law requires the employers to send these amounts that they withhold from an employee’s check directly to the State Disbursement Unit. However, there are many times that either because of an old order or because of confusion between parties, the person who is supposed to be paying child-support decides it would be easier to just pay the money directly to their child’s parent. This can be a real problem when it comes to enforcement and can cause a huge headache for both parties. Some people may assume that when an order says that child-support must be paid through the state registry that there is no hope for someone who gets pulled into court with enforcement and who could potentially owe hundreds, thousands, or even tens-of-thousands of dollars. At least one court of appeals in Texas would have even agreed with you on that up until recently.

Can a trial court look at direct payments as evidence?

El Codigo de Familia de Texas (TFC) tiene bastante que decir sobre los derechos y tambien las obligaciones de un padre.

Primero, quien es considerado un padre?

De acuerdo a lo que dice la seccion 101.024 del TFC, un padre es un hombre legalmente determindo ha ser padre, ha sido juzgado a ser padre, ha reconocido la paternidad, o es un padre adoptivo.

Despite the URL Guest and Gray hasn’t had a physical office in Dallas (we shared a space in Irving for a bit). We had a lot of Dallas cases and clients, but not a space. Years ago my SEO team said that Rockwall/Kaufman County weren’t big enough to really target on their own with the blog title. So while we’ve been litigating in Dallas, we just haven’t had a place to meet clients there.

That’s about to change. We are proud to announce that we opening our new West End location next week. Remember the West End? It was the coolest when I was growing up. Laser tag, mini golf, fudge, Planet Hollywood (I’ve never actually eaten there, but it felt like a cool get at the time). That building is still closed I think, but we are moving in next to TGI Fridays. I haven’t eaten at a Friday’s in a while, I had a salad and it was pretty good. So check that out if you have time.

So stay tuned for more news on that front and thanks for your support. We only continue to expand because of our friends and clients.

Do you pay child support? Are you in arrears on your child support payments? If you answered yes to both of these questions, a child support lien may attach to you real or personal property after it has been perfected, even if you are not in possession of that property. The Texas Family Code provides many different ways by which to perfect a child support lien. One of the methods by which to perfect a child support lien is to deliver a valid statutory child support lien notice to a third party believed to be in possession of the personal or real property that belongs to the person obligated to pay child support. As long the notice meets the statutory requirements of The Texas Family Code, no court action is required for the lien to attach.

If you are in possession of real or personal property that belongs to a person who has a child support lien against them, you should not knowingly dispose of that property after receiving proper notice that a child support lien has attached to the property. If you do, you may be held liable for the amount of the value of the property, but it cannot be greater than what is owed in child support. For notice to be proper it must include the name and address of the person to whom notice is sent, the court of continuing jurisdiction, the obligor (person ordered to pay child support), the obligee (person entitled to received child support), the amount of child support or arrearages owed, the name of the person asserting the lien, and statements that the lien attaches to all nonexempt real and personal property of the obligor located in or recorded in the state, that unpaid future support constitutes a final judgment for the amount due and owing, and that obligor is being provided with a copy of the lien notice.

If a person files a claim alleging disposal of property subject to a valid child support lien, there are three things they must prove. First, they must show that the lien notice complies with the statutory requirement of the Texas Family Code. Second, they must prove the specific elements of the Family Code to establish the person knowingly disposed of the property. Third, they must prove the value of the property disposed of. In a recent opinion, the Texas Court Appeals ruled that a person did not knowingly dispose of property subject to a child support lien when they deposited rent payments into a savings account following receipt of a lien notice, and then closed the savings account. In the Court’s opinion, it amounted to nothing more than transferring money from one account to another, and not actually getting rid of the money.