5 Benefits of Hiring a Family Law Attorney
Family law incorporates a variety of issues, including divorce, alimony, child custody, child support, and adoption. Whether you have made a solid decision to make changes in your life, or are seeking information about your options, you need a knowledgeable family law attorney.
Many parents worry about how divorce will affect their children emotionally. Research shows that children make a solid adjustment within about 24 months after the divorce. They also find that children who grow up in an environment where their parents are in constant conflict have more problems overall.
Now is the time to hire a Houston family law attorney. The new year has begun and there are benefits to taking that step forward now.
1. Eliminate a Toxic Relationship
It is easy to get wrapped up in a toxic relationship. You may not even realize that you are in one. Your relationship is toxic if the parties do not support each other, there is an ongoing conflict, one person tries to undermine the other, there is competition, conflict, disrespect, emotional abuse, or physical abuse.
One sure sign that you are in this type of relationship if it is constantly draining your energy and you are constantly unhappy. If you find yourself struggling in a situation of this nature, you may want to consult with a family law attorney to learn your legal rights and options.
The divorce rate in the United States is 39%, with the common causes of divorce being:
- Problems with money
- Affairs and infidelity, resulting in an irreconcilable marriage
- Sexual problems, including lack of sexual compatibility, including sexless marriages
- Substance abuse
- Emotional or physical abuse
Whatever the reason for desiring to be out of a relationship, contacting a family attorney will help you take the first step forward into a new, more satisfying life.
2. Your Ex-Spouse Got a Promotion
You were skimming through social media and saw a post by your ex-spouse about getting a promotion at work. It stands to reason if they got a promotion they will also now have a higher income. If you have minor children this can have an impact on the amount of child support they contribute.
Parents have an obligation to notify the court when they have a change in income. Typically they remember this step when income goes down, but it conveniently slips their mind when income goes up. You can push the matter by filing a petition requesting an increase in child support.
The court will then need to review the wages of both parties and make a recommendation on whether or not an increase in child support or responsibility for medical bills is reasonable. When considering child support the following things are taken into consideration:
- The income and ability to earn of each parent
- Each parent’s level of education and employability
- The costs for child care and education
- The cost of health insurance and health care
- The cost of living
The employability of a parent is their ability to earn. This prevents a parent from taking a low-paying job on a temporary basis in an effort to keep their child support obligation low.
For example, if a parent has a dental license, but is earning a low-paying wage in a small factory, that will be taken into consideration. That parent is obviously not earning wages to the best of their ability. This standard applies to both parents.
The above factors are taken into consideration, but the general rule is that if you are providing support for one child it will be 20% of your net income. The percentage then increases by 5% for each child thereafter up to a total of six or more children, at which point support will be at least 40% of your net wages.
Your attorney will be knowledgeable on child support laws and how to make sure the request is properly filed to support your position in requesting the increase.
3. Parenting Time and Custody Disputes
The holiday parenting time is complete, and problems have arisen. There are several common reasons why one parent may request a change in parenting time or custody, including:
- A parent is moving a substantial distance away or out of state
- Incarceration of a parent
- Endangerment to the child
- Failure to comply with the court order
Children are chatter-boxes and you may learn about inappropriate things happening in your ex-spouse’s home. This can be something minor such as inadequate sleeping arrangements for the children to more serious claims of physical abuse, emotional abuse, substance abuse, or mental illness.
The safety of your child must always be a priority. If you believe your child may be in danger, you do not want to attempt to represent yourself. By consulting with a family law attorney you will know where you stand and what steps you need to take to ensure the claims you are making are factual.
The attorney can advise you on how to proceed in a manner that is in the best interests of the children. This standard is set forth by §153.002 of the Texas Family Code, which states the primary consideration when making findings regarding the issues of child custody and parenting time is to consider the best interest of the child.
Courts do not like to disrupt the living arrangements of minor children unless there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This change must be significant, material, and can be enduring in nature.
4. Failure to Comply With Court Order
Family law attorneys are familiar with the trials and tribulations that can result in contempt of the court for failure to follow the court’s orders. This can happen at any time with divorce, custody, or child support matters. While a court order should keep things in line, people frequently try to side-step court orders.
A request for a party to be held in contempt requires the filing of a motion. According to the Texas Family Code § 157.002, the motion must contain the provision of the order that you are seeking enforcement of. It must also state how the respondent is not complying with the court order and include a request for relief.
When a person fails to comply with a court order, the court may order them to pay fines. They may enter a new order and sometimes may order incarceration.
If you are dealing with someone who refuses to comply with a court order, you will want to hire a family law attorney who knows how to prepare the motion requesting enforcement and/or the other party be held in contempt.
This can be for numerous reasons, including an ex-spouse who is withholding assets awarded to you in the divorce settlement, or failing to refinance joint assets they receive in the settlement into their name. Other issues of contempt may be parenting time violations, failure to pay support or alimony, or harassment.
5. Wills and Trusts
One aspect of family law that many leave to chance is what will happen if they suffer an untimely death. When you hire a family law firm with estate planning attorneys, you can make sure that all your wishes are met following your death.
If you do not have a proper estate plan at the time of death, your assets will fall under Texas intestate succession law. The law determines distribution dependent upon whether or not you have living parents, children, or close relatives.
If you have a spouse and children who are the issue of you both, your spouse will inherit all your community property plus 1/3 of your separate property. They will also be able to use your real estate for life. Your children will inherit all remaining items.
The rules are different if you are married, but the children are not the issue of your spouse. In this instance, your spouse will receive ½ of the community property, 1/3 of your separate personal property, and the right to use your real estate for life. Your children will inherit everything else, including ½ interest in all community property.
There are other variations for other family settings. The important thing is to understand that what you want for your family and what the state decides by law may be very different.
By putting your assets into a trust your family will be able to avoid many tax obligations. In your will, you designate who will become the guardian of your minor children if you die before they become adults.
The distribution of assets and the guardianship of your children are decisions you want to make. Knowledgeable attorneys at Slate & Associates will customize your wills, trusts, and other necessary documents to provide your family from confusion and disagreements over the distribution of your assets.
You Need A Houston Family Law Attorney
Contact Slate & Associates for a family law attorney who will help you resolve any family law matters you are struggling with.
The firm has combined experience exceeding 90 years and will apply that knowledge to your unique case, resulting in the best possible outcome. Call Slate & Associates today or use our online form to make a solid kick-off toward a legal settlement.