Military Child Support

In military child custody or divorce cases, child support often emerges as the focal point of contention. While for numerous families, child support predominantly revolves around guideline levels stipulated in the Texas family code, in certain situations, it becomes a significant source of dispute in Texas family law proceedings. Hence, it’s beneficial to explore common challenges inherent in family law cases in Texas. Moreover, I can share insights into potential solutions derived from my experience as a practicing family law attorney.

When it comes to making child custody cases work after the cases come to a close, I can think of no more important subject than visitation and possession. Namely, what many people fail to understand who have gone through child custody cases is that even though you may have created a visitation or possession schedule that works perfectly on paper, you all need to be comfortable with the logistics of ensuring that both you and your Co-parent can fulfill your obligations under the order in terms of dropping off and picking up your children on time. This is true no matter if you are the primary conservator of your children or if you are the possessory or nonprimary custodian.

Coping with custody logistics

The tough part for you and your spouse, our Co-parent, is that there is no silver bullet or magical cure for coming up with a plan that works exactly right for your family. What may work well for one family may work very poorly for yours. As a result, you and your Co-parent will have to become creative in reaching solutions to problems that may rear their ugly heads during a child custody or divorce case, namely, that the plans you have created may not work well in reality. In the Houston area, reality means traffic, congestion, and problems with getting your child two in from each other homes every weekend as scheduled.

You and your Co-parent will have to work on these problems together with your attorney. There is no specific right or wrong answer. You all will need to be creative in coming up with solutions to better your family. Otherwise, you may have the most creative possession and visitation schedule around, but if you cannot get your child to and from each other’s homes on time every time, then it does not matter. For that reason, the logistics of dropping off and picking up your children in each setting need to be at the forefront when you came up with possession and visitation schedules.

Clear communication and transportation responsibilities

Ensure that you clearly articulate whatever decision you ultimately reach together in plain language within your final orders. There is no sense in beating around the Bush unclear with each other. Number one, you stand the risk of confusing your selves with the language that you use. Putting yourself in a position where a family court judge cannot enforce your final orders later on renders them unenforceable and essentially worthless. Nothing could be more deflating or frustrating for a person to go through a family law and child custody circumstance.

In most cases, the noncustodial parent transports the children to and from each other’s homes for periods of possession. However, your family circumstances might lead to the primary conservator of your children assuming transportation duties, or you may consider sharing the responsibility for transportation. Either way, you need to focus on having these decisions with your Co-parent before the beginning of a family law case. Your failure to do so may result in problems down the line and hurt feelings on both sides. Remember that the easier you make drop-offs and pickups, not only do you improve your life but that of your Co-parent and especially your children.

Long-distance drop off and pickups

If you’ve recently moved, whether due to the pandemic, job changes, or a family law case, you’re likely facing new logistics for pick-up and drop-off, especially if you’ve moved outside a metropolitan area. It’s crucial to address these logistics with your co-parent promptly to avoid complications later.

If you and your Co-parent live a considerable distance from one another, the most reasonable solution may be to negotiate on a midpoint to perform drop off and pickups. This would minimize the time that your children would have to be in a single car for a long period. Also, it would allow both parents to share in the transportation associated with kids’ visits. There are many scenarios where this type of drop-off and pick-up may make sense.

For instance, if you all live a considerable distance from one another, then the parent who ’cause the long-distance may want to concede this reality and assist more frequently with dropping off and picking up your children. If you are the primary conservator of your children, then you may be reading this blog post and wondering how this is fair or would appeal to you. After all, if the responsibility for dropping off and picking up your children falls with the nonprimary parent, why should you attempt to assist in this endeavor.

Even if you’re not the primary parent, you might still feel inclined to take on responsibilities such as drop-off and pick-up. Your motivation might arise from the realization that without your assistance, your child’s access to regular possession or visitation could be jeopardized. This not only risks harm to your child but also necessitates spending additional time returning to court to enforce a court order or aiding your co-parent in establishing a visitation routine.

What happens regarding missed visitation time?

Sometimes, missed visitation is an unavoidable reality for you and your family. For instance, last-minute conflicts may arise, preventing the implementation of alternative plans for visitation. For instance, someone may have an issue with work obligations, family issues, or other problems that arise and leave you unable to fulfill the obligation to do normal dropping off and picking up. If that’s the case, you might not be facing a long-term issue but rather a one-time challenge that can be resolved by coordinating a schedule with makeup time, considering your ongoing lives.

Otherwise, if do you have a problem with your co-parent consistently missing visitation or position times. You may have two resort to other options to take care of this problem before it becomes a long-term issue. Notably, if your court orders are not working for you and your family, then you may have to go forward and make additional changes.

Seeking enforcement and potential solutions

When either you or your co-parent violates court orders, you must file for enforcement in the same court where your child custody or divorce case was handled. The enforcement lawsuit aims to outline the timing of the violation, along with disclosing any relevant details to the judge. Through an enforcement case, you seek to have a judge address these violations and instead help receive make-up time or go through other steps to address their wrong full denial of visitation, missed visitation, or other problem related to visitation.

There are a couple of ways to handle a situation like this. For one, you may be able to work out a solution with your Co-parent between the two of you rather than immediately involving the courts. For instance, you could establish an informal agreement where if your co-parent is more than an hour late to pick up your children for visitation without prior notice, you reserve the right to cancel the scheduled visitation via a phone call, email, or text message. This would give your Co-parent some warning as two need to be more attentive to any needs for drop off and pick up to occur on a different schedule. This is as opposed to showing up late consistently for visitation.

Waiting and informal agreements in custody disputes

From the parent’s perspective, waiting for the other parent to arrive may put you in a precarious spot. I say this because while an agreement like this would help you avoid court, it would not put you in a position where you are much better off in many ways. For starters, you would still be left waiting for your Co-parent on many occasions. An informal agreement like this does not put you in a position of strength but rather still requires you to wait on your Co-parent and risks there not being any accountability from them that is always late. However, if you avoid court and do not have to go through the time, money, and trouble associated with the court, this may be an option that you wish to take advantage of.

On the other hand, addressing an issue like this could be a good faith showing to your Co-parent that you are willing to give them a chance to rectify any problems before going to court. Many times, by immediately filing an enforcement lawsuit as soon as issues arrived with visitation or possession, you may put yourself in a position where you eliminate any chances don’t work on solutions together rather than with your attorneys in court. You would need to discuss this as an option with your Co-parent rather than assume it would work out well. As always, consult with your experienced family law attorney during a family law case to determine whether or not informal agreements like this are likely to work well if future violations occur.

Makeup time for missed visitation

On the other hand, if visitation opportunities are missed due to the primary conservator wrongfully withholding the children or for any other reason, you and your co-parent need to be comfortable negotiating makeup periods of possession. Since your weekends are already tightly scheduled, you won’t have much opportunity to make changes unless you both have a well-thought-out plan in mind. For instance, switching weekends work well if you have a fairly straightforward schedule. However, the more complicated complex or court orders are, the more creative you may need to become when arranging makeup visitation periods.

What about mobilization and deployment issues?

As with any military family, mobilization and deployment issues can be abundant depending on the time of year and the branch of service that your military member is serving in. If you anticipate that either you or your spouse may soon be deployed, it’s crucial to consider your options and prioritize what’s best for your children. This might involve arranging makeup periods of possession or exploring alternative schedules that accommodate changes in your lives as a family.

When negotiating periods of possession, visitation orders, and custody arrangements, it’s important to consider including language in your final decree of divorce or custody orders that adequately addresses the needs of your children. This may involve negotiation and careful consideration of your specific circumstances. What may work for one military family may not work for yours. However, that does not mean that you and your Co-parent cannot work together to create beneficial circumstances for your family and that of your Co-parent.

Many parents in your position would like to be able to provide a range of additional persons who could step in and take advantage of custody time with your children if a deployment or otherwise issue occurs with the visitation of your children due to military responsibilities. For example, if you could not take advantage of your time with your children, you could designate a third party who could intercede and spend that time with them in your place.

What about child support issues for military service members?

In reality, child support operates similarly for military families as it does for civilian families. If you find yourself obligated to pay child support, you’ll undergo an assessment of your net monthly income, with a portion allocated accordingly. This process is crucial because you and your attorney must invest time in calculating your income, considering various factors such as additional types of pay and side benefits through the military that may count as income based on your individual circumstances.

It’s essential to grasp child support and how it will be paid by the conclusion of your family law case. Doing so positions you well to ensure not only the well-being of your children but also to minimize the likelihood of returning to family court in the future. The last thing you want after enduring a challenging child custody or divorce case is to encounter unresolved issues with child support. Failing to address these issues promptly may necessitate a return to family court sooner than desired to address the consequences of inaction during the initial proceedings.

Conclusion

Navigating the complexities of child support in military child custody or divorce cases within the Texas family law system can be fraught with challenges. While many families adhere to guideline levels outlined in the Texas family code, disputes over child support often arise, underscoring the need for a nuanced understanding of legal provisions and a collaborative approach to resolution. By directly addressing common problems and implementing solutions informed by legal expertise and practical experience, families can actively strive for fair and amicable resolutions that prioritize the well-being of the children involved.

In tomorrow’s blog post from the law office of Brian Fagan, we will discuss some FAQs by military families and provide you with answers to those questions. Hopefully, the general information provided in these blog posts will be impactful for you and your family as you head into your family law case.

Questions about the world of Texas family law? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations can be helpful as you attempt to learn more about the world of Texas family law and in terms of learning how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Child Custody and visitation challenges for military families
  2. Q and A regarding a military divorce
  3. Child Support, Military Entitlements, and Calculations
  4. Child Support in Texas: What is the most you will have to pay and what are the exceptions to that rule?
  5. The Dirty Trick of Quitting Your Job to Avoid Child Support During a Texas Divorce
  6. Can I get child support while my Texas divorce is pending?
  7. Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
  8. Can I Sue My Ex for Retroactive or Back Child Support in Texas?
  9. Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
  10. Texas Child Support Appeals
  11. In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
  12. Why Ignoring Child Support Obligations is a Bad Idea in Texas
  13. Can I get child support and custody of my kids in Texas if we were never married?
  14. Parenting Payments in Texas: Everything You Need to Know in 2023

 

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