Law Office of Michael G. Diaz, P.C.
Providing Personalized Counsel for a Positive Future
Providing Personalized Counsel for a Positive Future
Contact Us at 972-542-6820
have previously discussed child support and how to calculate guideline child support obligations based on income in Texas. But what exactly is income? Sometimes that question can be tricky. The Texas Family Code actually uses the term “net monthly resources.”
Net resources includes all wage and salary income, but it also includes most money received from any source. According to Texas Family Code Section 154.062 net resources also include self-employment income, net rental income, interest income, trust distributions, annuity income, and gifts and prizes. Other benefits, included as net resources, include:
1. Severance pay,
2. Retirement pay,
3. Social security benefits (other than supplemental security income),
4. Veteran’s Affairs disability benefits,
5. Unemployment benefits,
6. Disability & worker’s compensation benefits,
7. Alimony, and
8. Child support received.
Section 154 also includes what resources are not included in the “net resource” calculation including, (1) return of capital or principal, (2) accounts receivable, (3) welfare benefits, (4) foster care payments, and (5) spouse’s income.
Since the child support guidelines start with determining what the net resources of a person are, it is important to make sure that you have included all appropriate resources and haven’t included those that are not part of the net resource determination.
If you have questions about child support or if there's been an increase or decrease in salary, you can schedule a consultation in our McKinney office. We can sit down, go over the numbers, and calculate what child support based on that change in circumstances.
Congratulations, after months of litigation and negotiations you and your spouse have reached a settlement in your divorce. The final decree of divorce is drafted and approved by the judge and the stress that you’ve felt for so long is finally gone.
But often times, people forget that besides the divorce decree there are other documents that needs to be signed. For example, if a house is awarded to one spouse, the other spouse needs to execute a warranty deed giving up that spouse’s interest in the property.
If there is a retirement account that was split between the spouses, the parties need to make sure a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is also signed by the court and sent to the account administrator. Many times although the divorce is final, parties fail to complete the QDRO until years later. The best, most cost effective time to get it done is at the same time as the divorce decree.
Another final detail that comes up is a name change. If a wife has had her last name changed from her married name back to her maiden name, that name change becomes effective as soon as the judge approves the divorce. However, the wife will still need to take the decree to the social security office to get a new social security card and to get a new driver’s license.
Finally, I also always recommend that my clients update their will after a divorce. A spouse’s estate has undergone a significant change with the property and debts that were divided in the divorce and a party should reevaluate how he or she wants those handled along with who should be the new beneficiary. This also goes for any payable on death accounts such as life insurance or bank accounts that have a former spouse named as the beneficiary.
Although many times people just want the divorce over with, it is important to make sure that all of the final details are covered. You want to be in a situation where you don’t have to think about these things years down the road when documents can be lost or when something might be time sensitive.
At my McKinney office, I am often asked about how student loans are treated in a divorce. Reports say that nearly 7 in 10 graduate with student loans and the average debt amount is $28,400. These loans are often the largest debt couples are having to deal with (or second behind the house mortgage).
Student loans in Texas are treated as any other personal debt. The general rule is that if the loans were incurred before the marriage those loans are the separate debt of the spouse who took out the loan and can’t be divided.
If the loans were taken out during the marriage then the general rule is that the loans are community debt and may be divided between the parties. However, the judge still will divide the debt in a manner he or she believes is a just and right division of debt. So taking into consideration the education and employability of a party and the earning capacity the judge may still award the entire debt to the spouse who took out the loans.
Student loans are part of the larger community estate and must be considered with the overall facts and circumstances of the marriage. At the Law Office of Michael G. Diaz, P.C. we can give you case specific advice so you can know what to expect as you move through the divorce process.
In some child custody cases, a court can decide that a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) would be appropriate to help determine what is in the best interest of the child. A GAL is a person appointed to represent a child’s best interest. The GAL doesn’t represent the child or any of the party’s but instead is there to represent what the GAL believes is the best interest of the child.
To determine the child’s best interest the GAL will generally take the following steps:
1. Try to elicit from the child, the child’s expressed objectives;
2. Interview relevant people;
3. Encourage settlement using mediation or other methods;
4. Perform any duties, as directed by the court;
5. Review copies of the child’s medical, psychological, and school records; and
6. Submit a report and testify about her recommendations and the reasons for those recommendations.
A GAL can make any recommendations that he or she feels is in the child’s best interest even if that recommendation is not what the child wants, or different than what either parent is asking for. GAL’s can be an important asset to the court since the GAL can meet with the child informally and can provide another third party view of what would be best for the child.
Michael Diaz is a Divorce and Family Law attorney in McKinney, Texas.
Providing effective and efficient solutions to Divorce, Custody, and Family Law clients in McKinney, Frisco, Allen, Plano, Melissa, Princeton, Prosper, Fairview, Celina and throughout Collin County.
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