In San Antonio and Bexar County, even an uncontested divorce must deal with potentially thorny children’s issues, known more commonly as the SAPCR (Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship). The following paragraphs discuss some basic legal concepts regarding children in an uncontested divorce which can be handled by an experienced Bexar County and San Antonio divorce attorney .
Under Texas Family Code, Chapter 153 , parties may enter into a written mutual parenting plan which covers conservatorship, possession, and modification. Under Texas law, the parent-child relationship refers to the legal relationship between the parents and the child. Parents have many rights and duties under the Family Code including a right to physical possession of the child, a duty to support and discipline the child, a duty to manage the estate of the child, a right to represent the child in a legal action, and right to make decisions concerning the child’s education.
In Bexar County courts , both the father and mother are each named as conservators, with one parent usually named as the managing conservator. However, the courts presume that appointment of both parents as joint managing conservators is in the best interest of the child. Even in a joint managing conservatorship (JMC), one conservator is given the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child with geographic restrictions. A child 12 years of age or older can file a written statement with the Bexar County divorce court , expressing their preference for the parent with the exclusive right to determine residence.
In certain situations, the courts will find it impossible to create a JMC, and they will resort to appointing one parent as the sole managing conservator and one parent as the possessory conservator. This division occurs if for example, one of the parents has been absent from the child’s life for a long period of time, there has been abuse and neglect, or the parents have a history of violent conflict. As you can imagine, the sole managing conservator will have additional rights above the possessory conservator, including the right to designate the primary residence and right to receive child support payments.
An important concept all divorcing parents in San Antonio must deal with is child support and medical support. The Texas Family Code sets out a specific formula for the determination of child support. Once the gross income of the non-custodial parent has been determined, then deduct social security taxes, federal income taxes utilizing the tax rate for a single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deduction, state income tax (usually not applicable in Texas), union dues, and costs of health insurance or cash medical support for the child paid by the noncustodial parent. Once you have a number, then charts in the Texas Family Code can be used to determine the percentage of the net resources up to a maximum amount of $7500. Child support is mandated until the child reaches 18 or matriculates from high school (whichever comes later), or the child becomes emancipated, or the child does, or by some order of the Bexar County court. Child support can be revised every three (3) years if the amount of support would increase or decrease by 20% or $100. Under the Texas Family Code, however, modification of child support can occur after one year if circumstances have materially changed. For assistance with child support issues, consult a San Antonio Divorce and Child Support lawyer .
Many parents who do not want to pay the required child support think they can avoid the obligation by stopping work. However, a skilled Bexar County divorce attorney can submit a claim showing that the individual’s actual income is less than what could be earned due to intentional unemployment or underemployment. Bexar County and greater San Antonio courts are now requiring an executed Employer’s Order to Withhold at the time of finalization of the divorce decree. The Employer’s Order to Withhold is a court-approved order to the employer to withhold a certain amount from each pay check and send it to the child support disbursement unit in San Antonio.
With respect to medical support, the courts presume that the parent responsible for child support, will also assume the responsibility of providing the child’s health insurance. In cases where the parent does not have the health insurance available, the other parent’s insurance may be utilized and the responsible parent must reimburse these costs to the providing parent. Where there are cases involving a SAPCR or child support, Bexar County Family Law Courts must issue medical support orders, which can be enforced just as child support. The wage withholding order can also cover medical support. Any uninsured expenses are usually split between the parents.
With respect to possession, the Texas Family Code sets forth a Standard Possession Order (SPO), which creates a guide for visitation by the possessory conservator or outlines a time of possession for a joint managing conservator who does not have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child. SPOs are generally applicable to children three years or older. There are two (2) schedules in an SPO depending on whether the parents reside 100 miles or more apart. For parents within 100 miles, the SPO incorporates a weekday possession during the school year and 30 days in the summer. For the over 100 mile situation, the weekday possession is omitted, and 42 days are given in the summer. Some parents are able to agree to a possession arrangement outside the SPO, including alternating possession of the children through a week on, week off schedule. Some parents agree to split custody where one or more children live with a parent, and the remaining children reside with the other parent. Bexar County Family law judges are not likely to approve of split custody arrangements unless there are teenage children who express a clear preference for their residence.
Inevitably as time passes, SAPCR orders may have to be modified. A Texas family law attorney can file a motion to modify with the court that signed the last order – that court maintains continuing, exclusive jurisdiction. If the child has moved since the last order, an attorney can also file a motion to transfer venue with the petition for modification. For assistance with custody arrangements and SPO, contact a San Antonio divorce attorney .