Money. Besides your children, money is the most critical aspect of a divorce. I hate to break it down for you like that, but in my experience, it is the truth. You may disagree. You may want to disagree because talking about a long-term, committed relationship being broken down into something as crude as money is unbecoming.
That's fine. Ultimately a divorce is a financial transaction. Remove any issues regarding your children (which we will be discussing in a moment), and you're left with an economic pie that needs to be sliced and divided up between you and your spouse.
One of the slices of that financial pie could be spousal maintenance, also known as spousal support. Spousal maintenance is a payment that is ordered to be made from the future income of one spouse towards the help of the other. A judge in your divorce could order that spousal maintenance is paid under certain circumstances, often involving family violence that has occurred within two years of the filing of the divorce.
Additionally, suppose you and your spouse have been married for at least ten years. In that case, spousal support can also be ordered if whichever of you receives the consent does not have sufficient separate property to provide for your minimum reasonable needs. Often a disabled spouse or one caring for a child and unable to work would befit this description.
How long and how much spousal support can be awarded in your divorce
There are limits to what a court can order to be paid for spousal support. Remember that spousal support is called to be produced to meet a party's minimum basic needs.
This does not mean helping them live the lifestyle they have become accustomed to or anything like that. At most, a judge can order that you or your spouse pay no more than $5,000 per month or twenty percent of your gross monthly income towards spousal support- whichever of those numbers is less.
The spousal maintenance award is also limited to a time based on how long your marriage has lasted. An exception to this rule is in place if you or your spouse has a mental or physical handicap that keeps either of you from providing for your minimum basic needs.
Consequences of failing to pay court-ordered spousal support
If either you and your spouse agreed that spousal maintenance should be paid after a divorce or the judge in your case ordered that it be paid for some time, those orders will be reflected in your Final Decree of Divorce.
If the spouse ordered to pay the maintenance does not do so, then there will be an opportunity for the other spouse to file an enforcement case against them much like you would for missed child support payments. This means that if you miss payments of spousal support, a judge can find you per violation and even assess jail time against you.
Spousal maintenance can be serious business if you are being asked to pay or if you find yourself in a position where you need some temporary support for some time after your divorce. If this is your reality, I would recommend that you hire an attorney to represent you who has experience in negotiating regarding spousal maintenance. It is a short-term investment that can have a dramatic effect on your life well after your divorce has concluded.
Children's Issues in a Texas Divorce
Your Final Decree of Divorce will include what is known as a Parenting Plan. This Parenting Plan includes language regarding your conservatorship rights over your children, a visitation schedule for the parent who does not have primary conservatorship of your children, and will lay out what the child support responsibilities are for the parent who has to pay child support.
This is a lengthy section in your Decree and will seek to avoid future disputes between you and your ex-spouse. If your Divorce Decree covers it, then there is no sense arguing about it- or worse- going back to court to have a judge clarify or make any additional orders.
How long do orders related to children last?
Your court covers child support and conservatorship issues related to your children until your children reach eighteen years of age or graduate high school, whichever of those occurs furthest into the future.
If your child is disabled or has a handicap, the court may extend the time to make rulings on these subjects. If your child cannot support him or herself on their own, then it is a safe bet that your court will hang on to jurisdiction for as long as possible.
Child Custody Matters
Any child you have with your spouse under the age of eighteen or otherwise who has not graduated from high school will be a part of your divorce case. We see clients use the term "custody" as a substitute for parents to keep the children with them. You and your spouse will likely be named joint conservators of your children mean that you both will have relatively equal possession of your children during any given year.
This also means that you and your ex-spouse will share equally in the rights and duties associated with your children. While many parents (understandably) fight long and hard over the time that each will have with their children, these rights and duties are as meaningful as the time awarded to each parent, if not more so.
It is presumed that naming you and your spouse as Joint Managing Conservators of your children is in their best interests. You may be called the conservator with the ability to designate the primary residence of your children- otherwise known as the primary conservator. This means that the children will primarily live with you and have periods of visitation with your ex-spouse.
Your ex-spouse would be known as the Possessory Conservator in this scenario. They would have the right to possess your children at certain times on certain days- all laid out as clearly as possible in your Final Decree of Divorce.
Other than the ability to give and receive child support, and the right to determine the primary residence of your children, most of the remaining requests are shared equally between you and your spouse. Most importantly, this means decisions regarding medical, educational, and psychiatric situations must be made with your ex-spouse before taking action in non-emergency cases. Many parents will name a "tie-breaker," usually a teacher, physician, or other trusted person, to decide if they cannot agree on a particular subject.
On the other hand, you and your spouse can agree to divvy up your rights and duties to your children in basically any way you would like. The catch is you have to decide on these issues and settle your case. If you cannot do so, a court will step in and make those decisions for you.
Child custody, the primary residence of your child, and Child Support-tomorrow's blog topics
If you are interested in what happens in a divorce from your children's perspective, then the next few days should be exciting for you as a reader of our blog. We hope you come back to read more as we focus on issues relating to your children in a divorce.
Any questions on this subject can be addressed to the family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week and would be honored to speak to you about your situation.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Spousal Maintenance in Texas
- Military Support Without a Court Order During a Divorce in Texas
- Spousal Support Availability in a Texas Divorce
- Know-How to Determine Whether Alimony will be Owed and for How Long, When Preparing for Your Texas Divorce
- 3 Important Facts about Texas Alimony and Spousal Support
- Alimony or Spousal Support and a Disabled Spouse in Harris and Montgomery Counties in Texas
- Spousal Support, Spousal Maintenance, and Alimony in Spring and Houston, Texas, and when is it available?
- Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX, Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.