When you go to mediation for final orders, your goal is to settle all divorce issues: children issues and property issues. For children’s issues, there are four general topics:
- Possession and Access
- Child Support
- Health Care (Insurance coverage and unreimbursed medical expenses)
Conservatorship: When domestic violence is not an issue, the law presumes courts will appoint parents as Joint Managing Conservators, but each conservator’s rights and duties vary case to case. Usually the court gives the same person the right to establish the children’s primary physical residence as they give the right to receive child support. Parents can exercise certain rights jointly, independently by both parents or exclusively by one parent.
Possession and Access: When children are over the age of 3, the law presumes the Standard Possession Order (SPO) is the appropriate visitation schedule for the non-primary conservator.
The SPO for parents who reside within 100 miles of each other is (generally) possession on:
- The first, third and fifth weekends of each month
- Thursdays during the school term
- Alternating spring breaks
- 30 days in the summer
- Alternating holidays
Possession for parents who reside over 100 miles apart varies slightly from the above:
- (No visitation on Thursdays)
- Spring break visitation
- 42 days in the summer
(Reference: SUBCHAPTER F. STANDARD POSSESSION ORDER)
Child Support: The law presumes that child support calculations are a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income. Net income under the Texas Attorney General tax charts allows deductions only for income tax, Medicare and Social Security taxes for a single person claiming zero dependents. You can also adjust percentages for children not of the marriage. The Texas Attorney General Monthly Child Support Calculator is helpful for determining child support payments.
Health Care: The law presumes that the non-custodial parent or parent who pays support also takes responsibility for the children’s health insurance coverage. Before calculating child support, you deduct the cost of the children’s insurance coverage from your net income. Parents usually allocate unreimbursed medical expenses 50/50, but that proportion can also vary based on disproportionate earnings of the parents.
Texas law presumes that all property owned at the time of divorce is community property. Property owned by you or your spouse before marriage or property received by one of you during the marriage through gift or inheritance is separate property. We have to show by clear and convincing evidence that your property is separate, which usually involves providing documents that trace the acquisition or receipt. A community estate can have reimbursement claims for separate debts paid off with joint monies. You or your spouse can also enter a claim for reimbursement of your separate estate for community debts or improvements that were paid for using separate property monies.
These issues may not apply to your divorce, but if they do, we need to address them during mediation.
When there is no fault in your marriage breakup, courts divide community property in a manner that is “just and right.” This usually means splitting community property 50/50. To divide property, you need to figure out the net equity value of each asset, add up the total values and divide them by two. This shows the court how much to award you and your spouse. Your attorney helps determine how to allocate different assets to you and your spouse so you each receive your fair share.
At C.E. Borman & Associates, we are glad to answer your questions, explain the legal process and work closely with you to make your divorce go as smoothly as possible.