Families come in all shapes and sizes. If you are in a relationship and are interested in getting married, you need to ask yourself some questions before moving forward with wedding plans. The answers that you get can be the difference between a long-lasting marriage and one destined for hard times.
How does getting married for a second time affect children from your first marriage?
You have a moral and legal obligation to provide for your children. It does not matter that your previous marriage ended on bad terms; your commitment to those children remains intact as if the marriage never ended in divorce. Your ability to visit your children from a prior marriage is not affected by your getting married to another person. If you have court orders in place from a divorce decree, those orders are still in place as well.
If you have a child support obligation, then your responsibility is still in place as well, even after you marry another person and plan on having children with your new spouse. You know from experience that the amount of child support you are expected to pay is a function of how much net monthly income you earn and how many children you have to support. You are still responsible for paying medical expenses and other costs associated with medical care.
Keep in mind that if you receive child support from an ex-spouse and get re-married, your ex-spouse will still need to pay you child support. The state cannot even consider how much money your new spouse earns as far as all of this is concerned.
What happens if your new husband's ex-girlfriend accuses your husband of being the father of her baby?
It doesn't matter if your husband planned on having a child with his ex-girlfriend or whatever circumstances were in play. If he is shown to be the biological father of the child, then he will quickly have a legal relationship with them. That means he is entitled to visitation and conservatorship rights and has to pay child support to the mother.
A paternity test will be administered upon your spouse to determine whether or not he is the child's father. The results of that test will determine whether or not he has any legal obligation to provide and support the child. It can even happen that he is named the child's father without having taken a DNA test.
What can be done if you cannot afford to pay the child support you are ordered to pay?
You and your ex-spouse cannot negotiate a lesser amount of child support to pay between yourselves. That agreement has no legal force behind it, and either of you can violate the agreement at any time with little or no recourse for the other to seek legal remedies. Only a judge-made order with their signature can change the amount of child support you are obligated to pay.
A modification can be had if you can show that material or substantial change in the circumstances of you, your ex-spouse, or your child can be delivered to a court. A material and substantial change will be what the court is looking for. Or, you can show that at least three years since the last child support order went into effect to ask for a modification of a child support amount.
What can happen if you do not pay the child support you have been ordered to?
Enforcement of the child support order can occur. Enforcement is a legal remedy whereby either your ex-spouse or the Office of the Attorney General can request that the judge issue a ruling on violations of a court order. The instances where child support was not paid, and the amount of any arrearage in support would need to be provided to the judge.
Once a judge issues an order that states you owe child support, there are various options available under the law to collect the money. First of all, a wage withholding order may be sent to your employer that forces them to withhold a specific amount of money towards child support from your wages. You would be required to contact the court or the Office of the Attorney General anytime you change employers so that a new wage withholding order can be mailed out.
Next, if you were expected to get a refund on your federal income taxes, then you may be left disappointed if you also owe child support. The government can intercept that refund check to pay your back child support. Also, any licenses you own- hunting, fishing, driving, etc.- can be temporarily suspended to induce you to pay the child support obligation.
The most far-reaching enforcement mechanism that a family judge has available to them is to send you to jail for up to six months. The basis for this would be that you are in contempt of court, i.e., you knowingly violated a court order. You will often also be awarded deferred adjudication in lieu of jail time, but if you fail to make child support payments while on deferred adjudication, then that can be revoked, and you can and will be sent to jail.
What happens if you pay your child support, but your ex-spouse doesn't let you see your kids?
This is an all too frequent problem for many parents across Texas. As difficult as it can be to pay child support every month, to keep in mind is that visitation and child support payment is not connected concepts. I mean that if you do not pay child support, your ex-spouse cannot withhold the kids from you.
If you find yourself in this situation, you and your ex-spouse are still bound to follow the child support and visitation orders in your final divorce decree. Just because your ex-spouse refuses to allow you visitation with your child, you cannot withhold child support as an inducement for her to let you visitation. This is a messy situation, I grant you, but be aware that you could face the consequences for the failure to pay child support if you decide to go that route. Instead, consider filing your enforcement case against your ex-spouse and seek a legal remedy rather than some "at home" justice. Ultimately, child support is intended to benefit your kids, and withholding support will hurt them.
Should you combine incomes with your new spouse?
This is a central issue to any successful marriage. Money fights and money problems lead to more divorces in our country than any other issue, in my experience. The decision on whether or not to combine your incomes into a single bank account can set the tone for the rest of your marriage. For many people, it can leave you feeling vulnerable to allow your finances to be intermingled with another person. This can be especially true if you have had bad "luck" with your prior spouse.
In my opinion, combining incomes can be a good way for you and your spouse to interlock your values and attack problems together. If you go to pre-marriage counseling, many counselors will assign you and your spouse-to-be an assignment to create a budget together. This forces you to work alongside one another and determine what is necessary for your home and what is not. If you have disagreements or differing perspectives on various issues, it is an excellent time to sort those issues out before you get married.
Think about all the "little" issues that combining finances and budgeting will force you to work with your spouse. Subjects like giving to charity, weekly grocery trips, saving money for retirement, saving money for kids' college tuition, and many other areas of life are all important ones for you and your spouse to be able to work together on. If you do not combine incomes and instead operate off separate balance sheets, you may never get on the same page regarding these subjects.
What about the faith of your children? What says does your new spouse have?
If you are coming into a marriage with children from a prior relationship, you need to be sure that you and your new spouse are on the same page regarding religious practices. You must be respectful of any differences that may exist. This is a subject that can be incredibly difficult for many people to discuss, especially for your children.
You have the right to direct the religious upbringing of your children to whatever extent you are allowed under your final decree of divorce. Most of the time, you will be allowed to expose the children to your religious beliefs when they are with you, and your ex-spouse can do the same when they are with them.
Will you be required to support your spouse?
The law in Texas is that you and your spouse must support one another during your marriage. If you do not meet this responsibility, you can be held responsible by any other person or entity who has to provide food, clothing, and shelter to your spouse.
What sort of property rights exist for married persons in Texas?
All property acquired by you and your spouse during your marriage is considered to be jointly owned. This is also referred to as a community property presumption. You and your spouse own the property together, even if one of you does not work and has never contributed income to the marriage. The idea is that you and your spouse are partners in the marriage and share equally in the good and wrong of property and debt.
Your family home, other real estate, vehicles, cash from bank accounts, investments, furniture, etc., all qualify as potential community property when it comes to your marriage. As I mentioned in the paragraph before, your debts are also shared to an extent. It does not matter if you individually or your spouse separately purchased the real estate or the refrigerator. If it was purchased during the marriage, it is presumed to be community property.
What about income- is that community property as well?
Most marriages in Texas see two spouses working and earning an income. Once the money comes home, it does not matter if those incomes are not deposited into the same account. Again, many people have a preconceived notion that as long as you and your spouse never share a bank account, your money is yours, and his money is his. That is not the case. With this in mind, you may as well combine finances and bank accounts to work together on your finances.
Questions about marriage or second marriage? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you enter into a second marriage, you likely have some questions about how your prior relationships can impact your current one. The attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan under the problems that can arise in second and third marriages, and we stand ready to assist you by answering questions about these subjects.
Our office offers free of charge consultations six days a week here in our office. These consultations are an excellent opportunity to ask questions and receive honest feedback about your particular circumstances. To arrange a consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys, please do not hesitate to contact our office today. We appreciate your consideration and look forward to the opportunity to meet with you and your family.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Texas Adoption Lawyers
The adoption process can be daunting at times. You don't have to face it alone. The attorneys at The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, can help you navigate the process and create your perfect family. If you are in the greater Houston area and are interested in learning more, contact us today to speak directly with one of our adoption attorneys about your case.
Our Spring, Texas Adoption Lawyers 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. Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Texas Adoption Cases in Spring, Texas or surrounding areas, including Harris County, including Cypress, Klein, Humble, Tomball, the FM 1960 area, North Houston; and Montgomery County, including Conroe and The Woodlands; as well as the surrounding counties of Fort Bend, Grimes, Waller, and Washington, contact us today to speak directly with one of our family law attorneys about your case.