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New To Child Custody? This is For You

On Behalf of | Nov 20, 2013 | Uncategorized |

When going through a divorce, one of the first concerns of any parent is what will happen to my kids? Child Custody can be the most challenging aspect of a divorce and if you are going through this, you’ll find these 5 top concerns beneficial. 1. Can I get primary custody of my kids?  Sure, if you are the better choice for your kids.  At divorce is the only time when the custody playing field is level, where there are no legal presumptions favoring either party.  Once a court order is entered making you or your spouse the primary parent, the primary parent has an advantage going forward, based on the presumption that the original order was correct and in the best interest of the children. 2. Can the custody provisions in the divorce decree be changed later? Yes, the court will have jurisdiction over your kids until they reach age 18 or graduate from high school.  All orders pertaining to them can be modified as necessary as time goes by. That includes conservatorship, possession, and child support. The party wanting to modify the order has the burden of proving there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances warranting a modification and that a new order will be in the best interest of the children.  3. If I have the children half the time will I still have to pay child support? Unless  you are designated the primary parent, most likely you will.  If you and your spouse have worked out a possession schedule which is truly 50-50, and have a plan for equitably paying the children’s expenses, then it is possible no child support will be ordered paid by either party. It is also possible to have child support paid by the higher earning parent, based only on the difference between the parents’ incomes.  That would result in a much lower amount to be paid by the higher earning spouse. 4. Who gets to take the federal tax exemptions for the children? That is a matter of federal law, so the Texas judge has no power to allocate the tax exemptions.  As a practical matter, the parent with the primary conservator designation has the default claim on the exemption, although the parent directly paying more than one-half the child’s expenses may be able to thereby prove his or her right to the exemption.  In addition, the parties can make a written agreement allocating the exemptions, which the IRS will honor. At Puhl and Berbarie, in most cases we usually advise against doing that, since there is no way to modify the agreement should circumstances change, except by agreement of both parents which would be hard to get at that point. 5. What is the standard possession order?  An expanded standard possession order? These orders allocate to the non-primary parent certain periods of time when he or she has an enforceable right to possession of the children and allocates the rest of the time to the primary parent. Parents can always agree on any periods of possession if they want to change the schedule, but where there is no agreement, a specific order protects each party’s rights to possession of the children on the stated days. The non-primary parent has the right to elect to operate under the expanded standard possession order, which gives that parent more time with the children.

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