Dallas Divorce Law Blog

The difference between conservatorships and guardianships

Watching a parent or another older loved one age is often difficult. This may prove particularly true if the person you care about is also experiencing a decline in his or her physical or mental health. Unfortunately, many older Americans experience memory loss or illness that can make the things they once did far more difficult. Many older Americans also suffer physical hardships as they age that can make it tough for them to care for themselves.

Once your loved one reaches a point where he or she can no longer make sound decisions for him or herself, it may be time to step in and give someone else the responsibility of managing your loved one’s affairs. To do so, you may want to consider establishing either a conservatorship or a guardianship over the incapacitated party. So, just how do conservatorships and guardianships work, and which one may better suit your needs?

How DNA testing is used to resolve custody and support cases

DNA testing is often used to determine paternity in Texas cases involving custody and support. Since DNA results have accuracy rates of up to 99.99%, they can firmly establish if a former partner is a child's father. This could then lead to setting child support obligations.

Paternity is particularly important in cases where the parents weren't married at the time of conception or birth. After all, the father's name does not have to be listed on the birth certificate unless paternity has been legally established. In those cases, the dad is called the "alleged father." Once their paternity has been established by DNA testing, the court can set child support and grant him visitation or custody rights. DNA tests have been the reason some fathers accept their paternity and even build a relationship with children they had previously not recognized, such as was the case with Mick Jagger and Steve Jobs.

Understanding joint conservatorship in Texas

When you are getting a divorce, you may hear various terms while not knowing what they mean. One common phrase in divorce proceedings is “joint conservatorship.” There can be a lot of misunderstanding and confusion surrounding this topic.

First, it is vital to understand what physical conservatorship, or custody, means. Physical custody refers to the obligations and rights of a parent to make daily parenting decisions and provide a home for the child. Joint physical conservatorship means that both parents share these rights and responsibilities, but it may not be a completely equal split.

How child support debt affects mortgage eligibility

Texas parents who have fallen behind on paying child support might wonder if they can still qualify for a mortgage. First, the parent should check credit reports. With a high enough credit score, the person may qualify for a nongovernmental loan. Credit reporting agencies have changed how they record some types of debt. In fact, a child support debt might not even appear on a credit report. Falling behind on child support would not disqualify the applicant; although, it would be necessary to reveal the debt and the payment obligation.

Child support debt is not disqualifying for a Fannie Mae loan, but the applicant must meet certain standards related to credit score, debt-to-income ratio and the down payment. The person might not be eligible for an FHA, VA or USDA government-backed loan. An individual who has been reported to the federal database known as CAIVRS for nonpayment of child support might also be ineligible. However, it is possible to be removed from this database. The parent needs to make a written agreement with the court or custodial parent and prove that payments are being made regularly.

A child needs emotional support after parents divorce

In Texas and across the United States, children often feel neglected and confused after their parents get divorced. Even though divorce sometimes affects children in negative ways, parents can influence them to feel positive. A child notices when divorced parents get along with each other, do not display negative emotions and treat each other with respect. Refusing to say hurtful, spiteful comments to a spouse lets the child know that their parents can work together.

A divorced partner should never make any comments about their ex's weaknesses. Exes should also refrain from making remarks about neglecting to pay child support payments in a timely manner. Former spouses should stop blaming each other for the reasons their marriage fell apart. Otherwise, the children may side with one parent without good cause. A divorce does not mean that children need to suffer emotionally. Instead, both parents should offer their trustworthy support.

Separate property in Texas divorce proceedings

When considering divorce, you have some important questions.

What happens to the assets you and your spouse collected while married? What about the property you owned prior to the wedding? Texas is a community property state, so while the money and property you accumulated during the marriage , not everything goes into the pot. Find out the differences.

Child support costs vary across states

The child support payments of a Texas parent may vary dramatically from those paid by parents in neighboring states. In fact, Texas law still does not account for the mother's income in child support calculations. This is despite the fact that many fathers enjoy joint or sole custody and many mothers work outside the home and may be the primary income-earner. Parents who relocate might be concerned about how moving from state to state could affect their child support payments.

According to a study carried out by Custody X Change, an app designed to help parents deal with custody and support agreements, neighboring states sometimes have widely variant child support amounts. The app used the same data for family size, child age and parent income to calculate average support costs in all 50 states. They found that monthly support obligations could range from as low as $400 to as high as $1,187. While cost of living was a major factor in these calculations, it does not tell the whole story. For example, states like New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia have high costs of living but are in the lowest bracket for child support obligations nationwide.

Splitting student loan debt when a marriage ends

If debts are acquired before a person gets married, those debts are generally considered to be separate property. However, if debts are acquired after a marriage, both parties to the relationship could be responsible for paying some or all of those balances. In Texas, debts are considered community property, which means that they are divided equally in a divorce. Therefore, if one spouse takes out a student loan after the marriage is official, the other may be responsible for helping to pay it off.

In most other states, courts will look at a variety of factors in determining how to handle student loan debt. If the other spouse took care of the house or otherwise made it easier for the other to focus on school, he or she may not be liable for any future payments. The same could be true of those who don't make a lot of money or who didn't work while their spouse was in school.

3 concepts about child custody disputes in Texas

The stress of divorce can overwhelm even the strongest person. When a marriage ends, splitting properties, retirement accounts and perhaps even a business can place strain on an already stretched relationship.

When child custody is part of the mix, emotions can reach a fever pitch. Both parents may want to have the final say in decisions, and both may believe they know what is best. When divorcing with children in Texas, familiarize yourself with these three concepts so you may better understand the proceedings.

USDA pushing states to tie SNAP to child support

On May 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a memo urging Texas and other states to take better advantage of available child support cooperation requirements to help custodial parents receive the child support payments they are due. The USDA wants states to begin requiring that parents enter into child support agreements to qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits.

SNAP currently helps almost 40 million Americans pay for food, and many of those beneficiaries are single parents. Statistics show that approximately 37% of children living in single-parent households live in poverty, which is a much higher poverty rate than that of children living with two parents. One of the reasons that kids with single parents are stuck in poverty is because non-custodial parents fail to provide enough child support. In 2015, less than 50% of low-income custodial parents had a child support agreement in place. However, 15 years ago, that number was around 60%.