Firefighters, police officers, and others with unusual work schedules are often faced with unique challenges during a divorce or custody dispute. With traditional work schedules, Texas courts apply the “Standard Possession Order” (SPO) which allows possession of the child(ren) on the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month. Texas refers to visitation as the right to “possession” of a child. It is distinct from access. The SPO usually works fine if both parents do not work weekends because it gives both parents quality time with the child(ren) when they are out of school. But when a parent routinely works on the weekends, the Standard Possession Order is unworkable. Despite this, many parents agree to the Standard Possession Order under the mistaken impression that “we must follow the Guidelines.” As shown below, that is not the case.
Read More “Unique Parenting Plans for Firefighters, Police Officers, and Anyone Not Working “8 to 5””
How To Divide Retirement in Divorce Without Taxes or Penalties
A common issue in divorce is how to divide a retirement plan without incurring penalties or owing taxes. Under Federal legislation known as ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) a state court may order a retirement plan in another state to pay benefits directly to an employee’s former spouse. Under ERISA, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) issued by any state court must be honored by a qualified retirement plan regardless of which state the plan is administered in. Some executive level plans are exempted and may ignore a QDRO, but these are rare. Read More “Everything to Know About Dividing Retirement in Divorce – Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (Qdros)”
At McNamara Law Office, PLLC we offer mediation unlike that conducted by most lawyers. When spouses cannot agree how to divide their estate or what to do with children, we offer mediation before a divorce is filed without requiring each spouse to have a lawyer. Read More “Mediating Divorce With One Lawyer”
A Breakdown of the Texas Standard Possession Order
What is a Standard Possession Order (SPO) in Texas?
The Texas Legislature has made clear in the Texas Family Code §§153.3101 through 153.317, that a Standard Possession Order (or SPO) is in the best interest of the child. This is a presumption that may be rebutted if not in the child’s best interest. While many parents know generally what a Standard Possession Order entails (every other weekend, alternating holidays, etc.), the particulars are often unclear. Read More “What Exactly is a Standard Possession Order?”
It’s not unusual in a divorce for one spouse to realize they know little about the finances. More often it’s a wife. Sometimes, she manages household finances and pays bills, but the other spouse knows about the investments, retirements and business interests. Sometimes, one spouse manages all household finances, including paying bills, and the other knows nothing about income, expenses, retirement or investments.
Read More “We’re Divorcing, We Have A Sizeable Estate But I Don’t Know The Details”
A lot of questions have been asked about how the emergency measures related to Covid-19 affect child custody orders. Must a child be turned over at the time in a court order when there are emergency stay-home or shelter-in-place orders?
Read More “How does Covid-19 and the Stay-Home orders affect children with two homes?”
Must a Child be Returned when Spring Break was Supposed to End
if School Does Not Resume?
With the Coronavirus pandemic hitting our country at the time many school districts are recessed for the Spring Break holiday, many parent conservators are wondering whether they must return the children to the other parent after learning the break has been extended for an additional week or more. The simple answer is, it’s not a simple answer. Read More “The Coronavirus Conundrum: Spring Break – To Return or Not to Return?”
A drive-by mediation is where parties to a family law dispute meet with a mediator to confirm an existing agreement. Unlike most mediations, which are convened to resolve differences, a drive-by mediation is used to cement an existing agreement. For information about traditional mediation click here.
The term “Drive-By Mediation” is used because the agreement is already made, and the mediation is a short formality to make it enforceable and irrevocable. Bargaining and negotiation are not part of a drive-by mediation. It is not a legal term, but a nickname created by the legal community. Read More “What Is A Drive-By Mediation?”
Child Support is Based on Net Monthly Income
In Texas, child support is calculated based on the payor’s (or obligor’s) net monthly income. The Texas Family Code states that net income is to be calculated by “subtracting from gross income social security taxes and federal income tax withholding for a single personal claiming one personal exemption.” Tex. Fam. Code §154.061(b). This means that simply attempting to calculate one’s child support obligation based on his or her take home pay is a mistake. Payments for monthly health insurance premiums, 401(k) contributions, and other payroll deductions not specified in the family code will be included for purposes of calculating one’s net monthly income. In addition to wages and salary, rental income, retirement and annuity income, disability, unemployment, and gifts are all considered income for purposes of calculating child support. Read More “Child Support and High-Income Earners”
Although it can be difficult any time of the year, co-parenting during the holidays can be particularly challenging for separated parents. Holidays are typically filled with family-based events during which most parents like to have the entire family together. However, if the spouses are separated it can unintentionally create frustration and anxiety for children that feel torn about spending time between two parents. Read More “Co-Parenting During The Holidays”