Adoptions Attorney Leslie Barrows
How does child support work in Texas? 
 

How does child support work in Texas?

When parents in Texas file for divorce, the court will order one of the parties to pay child support until the child turns 18, graduates from high school, marries, dies or is emancipated by court order. The same child support order also applies when a man and woman have a child and are not married. When determining if a man is the father of a child Texas courts consider the presumption that the man is the father if he is married to the mother, or whether the man signed an acknowledgement of paternity when the child was born or was legally determined to be the parent with paternity testing.

Child Support Calculations

The first step in determining child support is identifying the obligor (who pays) and the obligee (who receives payments). In most cases the parent who the child lives with primarily is the one receiving child support payments. The obligor shall make child support payments in an amount ordered by the court. In Texas, the courts determine the amount of child support by calculating a percentage of the obligor’s annual gross income and monthly net resources, divided into monthly payments. The standard child support guidelines are as follows:

BASED ON THE MONTHLY NET RESOURCES OF THE OBLIGOR

1 child                  20% of Obligor’s Net Resources

2 children           25% of Obligor’s Net Resources

3 children            30% of Obligor’s Net Resources

4 children            35% of Obligor’s Net Resources

5 children            40% of Obligor’s Net Resources

6+ children         Not less than the amount for 5 children

Withholding and Disbursement

When the court has determined the proper child support amount, a withholding order is entered called an Income Withholding for Support Order (IWO). The IWO orders the employer of the obligor to withhold the amount of child support from the obligor’s paycheck. Generally, the IWO directs the employer to direct the withheld income to the Texas Attorney General Child Support division who processes payments and disbursements to the obligee parent who usually receives the payments on a Texas Payment Card which works like a debit or credit card.

Modifications

When there are substantial changes in circumstances such as the obligor’s income either parent may petition the court to modify the child support obligation and prepare a new IWO. In some cases, there may be adjustments to make for overpayments or for past due payments. When child custody, known as conservatorship, changes substantially or between parents, the child support may be modified.

Enforcement

When the child support payments are not being paid, there are several methods of enforcement. The Attorney General’s office may enforce the courts orders and as well the child support obligee can ask the court to enforce a child support order on their own or through their attorney. Ultimately the court can sentence a non-paying child support obligor to jail and enter a judgment against them for all the past due child support. Failure to pay child support may also cause suspension of the obligor’s vehicle registration. There may also be liens against assets, property and even tax refunds and lottery winnings.

Termination

In most Texas child support cases the obligor parent’s responsibility to pay support may be terminated when the child turns 18 or later when they graduate from high school if they are still enrolled as of their 18th birthday. The parent must file a request to terminate child support with the Texas Child Support Division to terminate the payments. In certain cases, the child support obligation will automatically terminate.

For more information about child support in Texas, please do not hesitate to contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

Medical powers of attorney before surgery 
 

Bill Paxton died at age 61 from a stroke during heart surgery. Joan Collins died at age 81 from a heart attack during surgery. Anyone who undergoes surgery can die. Death is not the only risk of loss we face when surgery is an elective option or lifesaving necessity. Before, during and after surgery, the patient may be unavailable to make decisions due to anesthetics or conditions like a coma, induced or naturally occurring. A medical power of attorney document is used to appoint another person to make specific decisions on your behalf when you are unavailable to make your own decisions during medical events such surgeries. Even if the procedure for which surgery is scheduled is thought to be relatively common and low risk, medical mistakes and death are possible. Having your trusted family member or friend there to make decisions on your behalf is imperative.

Factors leading to medical mistake, negligence and malpractice

Hospital administrations and the healthcare professionals who practice medicine face systemic and organizational challenges that seem to open the door to medical error. When there are too many people doing too many tasks, it is too easy for one hand not to know what the other is doing. A simple copy and pasting error on an electronic medical record can lead to surgery on the wrong arm or leg. What if the error led to an amputation instead of a knee surgery? If you think those things never happen, spend some time reading blogs on the websites of medical malpractice attorneys.

The use and combination of medications can lead to medical problems. With so many new drugs pumped into the medical market, how can healthcare professionals keep it straight and know what combination of drugs might lead to a heart attack during surgery? What drugs might complicate the anesthetic process itself before surgery begins? What if the medical mistake leads to the decision to medically induce a coma while the doctors try to figure out how to keep you alive? With so many questions and possible scenarios, it seems crazy to walk through the door of any hospital or urgent care clinic without having a medical power of attorney and trusted person to make decisions for you when your life may be on the line.

Choosing the person who will have decision making authority

The first question your attorney may ask you when discussing the terms of your medical power of attorney is, “under what circumstances do you trust this person with your life?” The thought of trusting someone that much is compelling. You may worry they may not know how to make the best choices. If your alternative is a stranger in a medical uniform who doesn’t know you from the next patient, your most trusted ally can start to seem like a pretty good choice.

Another question may concern the conditions under which you want to be kept alive artificially. How long would it be okay to be on life support before the chances of recovery are so bleak that your family and friends just suffer. People can have a tough time saying goodbye and letting go. People may fear they are to blame for not doing more to save you. In choosing the person to be given the authority to make life saving decisions, make sure you agree with this person about your expectations and how they affect others around you. It is a good idea to bring the whole family in on these types of discussions.

What may be contained in your medical power of attorney document

In a nutshell, any decision you might be asked to make can be identified in your medical power of attorney. The most common determinations can involve choices in medical treatments and procedures. Various medicines and narcotics can expose a patient to potential side effects. The individual making decisions on your behalf should know your family and health history and genetics to make more informed decisions about drugs and antibiotics. Another decision may be to continue treatment or proceed to a surgery.

Note that you can narrowly tailor your medical power of attorney to limit certain decisions. You can grant your loved one the power to make medicine and treatment decisions but not decisions about surgery. You may also state that the individual may only make end of life decisions.

In an ideal setting, the person with medical power of attorney would be available to witness and oversee the entire medical process. They would keep an eye on surgeries to make sure the correct limb is operated on and not unintentionally removed instead; risk of medical error is serious. You may need to enquire with your doctor and local hospital to help make decisions about your medical power of attorney.

With all the best plans made, life still happens. What happens when your perfect medical power of attorney scenarios unravels because you are in a hospital in another country that may not recognize your power of attorney document? There are many complex questions in medical power of attorney decisions and it is important to ask as many of those questions while everyone is healthy and of sound mind, and not under stress and anxiety.

For more information about medical power of attorney decisions and getting your ducks in a row, contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

Family violence and protective orders in Texas divorce and domestic disputes 
 

A Texas court may issue a protective order requiring a person to stop harming another. In most cases, protective orders are used in cases involving family violence and divorce. A protective order identifies the people to be protected against any aggressors and contains specific detail regarding the detailed restrictions to prevent contact. There are penalties for violating the terms of a protective order, and the courts take violations seriously. That said, a protective order is only a piece of paper and it cannot stop someone from committing further acts of violence. In high conflict divorce and domestic disputes, it is imperative that family violence victims are aware of safety risks and have some type of support system in place with family and friends.

In a recent family law podcast interview, Leslie Barrows spoke about domestic violence, protective orders and a tragic family violence incident that ended in the deaths of victims.

Texas Family Code: Issuance of a Protective Order

When an individual make an application for a protective order based on family violence that has occurred, and/or is likely to occur in the future, the court will hold a hearing and make its findings. The court may issue a protective order in the best interests of the person in need of protection upon its determination that family violence has occurred and that it is likely that the aggressor is likely to commit family violence in the future. Most protective orders are issued for a period of up to two years, and more in some cases. Sometimes in high conflict divorce cases, both parties apply for protective orders and may agree to the terms of mutual protective orders.

The contents of a protective order may include the following information:

  • Identification of the individuals, including children, to be protected under the order;
  • Prohibition against removing a child, property, pets identified in the order;
  • Grant of exclusive possession of a residence and order for others to vacate the residence;
  • Prohibition against communicating with directly with individuals named in the order;
  • Prohibition against driving by or being near a residence of place of employment;
  • Possessing a firearm, unless the individual is a member of law enforcement;
  • Additional terms and prohibitions allowed by the statutes and the court’s discretion.

In some cases, courts require individuals found to engage in family violence to attend a counseling program. If the individual fails to comply with the program, they may be punished by contempt of court.

Despite all the explicit warnings listed in a protective order, some people simply do not care and find themselves above law and order. If you have a valid protective order and the aggressor named in the protective order violates it without regard for consequences. If you are the protected individual and your aggressor violates the protective order, you should call 911 immediately.

Whether you recently obtained a protective order or are in the process of doing so, it is smart to set up a network of family and friends who can provide temporary shelter and assistance. If the person committing family violence also controls access to property and money, and that is not otherwise addressed in the protective order, proper arrangements should be made.

Additionally, it is a good idea to vary your routines. Take different routes to common destinations at different times. Make note of your surroundings and be aware of whether you are somewhere that there might be witnesses or surveillance cameras. While it may sound extreme to take many precautions, it is better to be safe than sorry.

For more information about protective orders in Texas and about family violence and divorce, please do not hesitate to contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

The Barrows Firm, P.C. relocated from Fort Worth to Southlake 
 

The Barrows Firm, P.C.’s Fort Worth office relocated to Southlake. The new address for the main office is 700 E. Southlake Blvd., Suite 170, Southlake, Texas 76092. The phone number remains 817-481-1583 and the new fax number is 817-912-1727. All emails should be sent to Attorney and Mediator Leslie Starr Barrows lbarrows@barrowsfirm.com and copy her paralegal Vicki Dobecka vicki@barrowsfirm.com. Mrs. Barrows continues handling Family, Criminal and Probate cases.

We will be having a mixer on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 4:30 pm. Follow us on Twitter @attorneybarrows, Linkedin and Facebook

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Spousal maintenance in Texas divorce cases 
 

One of the scariest thoughts when contemplating divorce is, “How am I going to pay to live?” Now, imagine that you are the spouse who has no idea a divorce is in your future. When both spouses work, and earn sufficient income to support themselves, spousal maintenance may be less of an immediate concern and more a matter of fairness and equity. It is important to note that spousal maintenance and child support are two very separate legal and financial issues. If a divorcing spouse requests maintenance in their petition for dissolution, the court will apply a set of factors to weigh and determine if, how long and how much spousal maintenance is proper to award. Note that in most cases, maintenance is designed to be temporary, while the spouse receiving maintenance prepares to be self-supporting on their own.

Eligibility for maintenance

In an active divorce case where the court has proper jurisdiction over the parties, the court considers whether, “the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property, including the spouse’s separate property, on dissolution of the marriage to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.[i]” The court will also consider any allegations of family violence as well as the length of the marriage and whether the spouse seeking maintenance cares for a child with disabilities.

Factors in determining maintenance

Once the court determines a spouse is eligible to receive maintenance, the court shall determine the nature, amount, duration and manner of periodic payments. The following is a general list of factors for a court to consider:

  • Ability to financially support oneself;
  • Education, training and job skills;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • Age and employability of the spouse;
  • Bad or fraudulent acts of a spouse;
  • Contribution to spouse’s education;
  • Property brought to the marriage;
  • Contribution as a homemaker;
  • Contribution to spouse’s education;
  • Marital misconduct, family violence, and more.

Duration of a maintenance order

After reviewing maintenance eligibility and factors, the next step is to determine how long. Courts may order spousal maintenance to continue for no longer than five, seven or 10 years after the date of the award. The court considers the factors above in determining duration of a maintenance order. The goal is to provide a recipient spouse maintenance, for “the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, unless the ability of the spouse to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs is substantially or totally diminished…[ii]

Amount of maintenance

In Texas, there is a maximum amount of spousal maintenance a spouse can be ordered to pay. The order may not exceed $5,000 or 20 percent of the spouse’s average monthly gross income.[iii] In determining gross income to calculate the amount of maintenance there are a list of factors in the Texas Family Code to be applied. When the court approves an income withholding order, the amount of maintenance is automatically withheld from one spouse and directed to the other.

Modification and termination and enforcement of maintenance orders

Spousal maintenance orders shall automatically terminate when a recipient spouse remarries or there is a death of either spouse. Maintenance is also terminable with a court hearing if the recipient spouse is in a cohabitating relationship with another. Maintenance orders are modifiable with a hearing and proof of a substantial change in circumstances. To enforce a maintenance order when a spouse fails to pay can also require a court hearing and a possible finding of contempt of court for failure to keep a maintenance obligation.

This article is intended to be a very basic overview of the issues involved in determining who may receive spousal maintenance and for how long and in what amount. Please consult The Barrows Firm for more information.

The Barrows Firm can provide additional information and resources on temporary and indefinite child support for minor and adult children with disabilities.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

[i] Tex Fam Code Sec. 8.051

[ii] Tex Fam Code Sec. 8.054(2)

[iii] Tex Fam Code Sec. 8.055

A bill to eliminate no-fault divorce in Texas 
 

In his effort to reverse a trend of negative effects of divorce on families, observed by Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, a one-page bill, filed in the current legislative session, would remove no-fault divorces from the Texas Family Code. The bill has been meet with both praise and criticism, prompting thoughtful discussion about marriage and divorce. There are several sides and points of view in a discussion about no-fault divorce. The Centers for Disease Control, keeping vital records on point, indicates three out of every seven Texas marriages end in divorce.[i]

Pleading grounds for a divorce in Texas

In Texas, you must allege grounds for divorce, one of which and the most commonly used is the no-fault ground of insupportability. When pleading insupportability, you are alleging conditions are unendurable, insufferable and intolerable. You do not need to prove the insupportability was anyone’s fault, it just is what it is, and you and your spouse will likely split the community marital estate 50/50 and be on your way. Does no-fault divorce make it very easy for one party to end the marriage, unilaterally? Absolutely. If you remove the no-fault provision, are you forcing someone to stay married against their will? That is an argument you are likely to hear in opposition of this bill.

The opponents to this bill argue that divorce cases will be more expensive to litigate if there are contested grounds. If you remove the no-fault provision, you are left to either decide or litigate as to who is at fault. There are several fault grounds that would remain on the books, even if no-fault is abolished.

Remaining grounds for divorce, aside from insupportability (no-fault):

  1. Adultery;
  2. Abandonment;
  3. Cruelty;
  4. Felony conviction;
  5. Confinement in mental hospital;
  6. Living apart for more than three years.

Without the no-fault grounds, you or your spouse must agree on who is at fault or take your changes litigating the fault-based grounds for divorce. Opponents of the current bill suggest that people with financial limitations may not afford to hire a lawyer and get a divorce, they may not be able to defend their case without a lawyer, and the may be stuck in a bad marriage with no way out.

Some may agree it is too easy to get divorced and throw in the towel

On the other hand, proponents of removing the no-fault ground for divorce may tell you that making it more difficult to get a divorce (including financially), can help couples work harder at reconciling conflict. Supporters of this bill may also tell you about research findings that among people who were divorced, many participants asked, reported that they regret not trying harder to resolve conflict, and regretting an impulsive decision to ask for a divorce.

Why is it in the heat of passion we can say we want a divorce and believe that uttering those words mean that you and your spouse have passed the point of no return. For those who feel strongly about the sanctity of marriage and the idea that people are too quick to make impulsive decisions, a more difficult road to divorce may help save more marriages.

Meanwhile, even those who feel very strongly about marriage and working it out, might also agree that taking the no-fault grounds away feels like the enslaving of your spouse with no way out. While there is support for and against this bill, there is an opportunity to listen and learn. We may consider the legislative history behind the addition of no-fault divorce in Texas.

Of course, as there are developments in this piece of legislation and other similarly relevant news, The Barrows Firm will certainly share it with you all.

The Barrows Firm shares important information and legal resources for veterans. If you need assistance with a matter involving a veteran in need of help, The Barrows Firm can direct you to the right people and organizations.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

[i] KXAN, Texas lawmaker hopes to keep couples together, ending ‘no-fault’ divorces. By Phil Prazan, Dec. 27, 2016.

Update: Craig VanDeWege returns to Tarrant County 
 

FORT WORTH – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

“Craig VanDeWege is in the Tarrant County Jail. The case has been assigned to the Tarrant County 372nd District Court Judge Scott Wisch. Craig’s legal team has met with him and continues their own investigation.”

Statement by Leslie Starr Barrows, an attorney representing Craig VanDeWege

About The Barrows Firm

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

Attorney Statement re: Craig Vandewege 
 

FORT WORTH – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“Attorney Steve Gordon of Steve Gordon & Associates in Fort Worth, Texas has travelled to Colorado to meet with our client to discuss extradition issues. Meanwhile, we have begun our own independent investigation into the deaths of Shanna and Diederik. Their funerals will take place this coming Tuesday. Now, we respectfully request that everyone interested in this matter, please allow the families time and space to privately grieve during this especially difficult time for these families also observing Christmas and Hanukkah.” Attorney Leslie Barrows of The Barrows Firm in Fort Worth, Texas.

As an update to the original statement, Barrows stated, “Craig has waived extradition and will be transported back to Texas by law enforcement.”

Statement by Leslie Starr Barrows, an attorney representing Craig VanDeWege

About The Barrows Firm

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

PODCAST: Right to due process of law in a criminal case, with Attorney Leslie Barrows 
 

This is The Barrows Firm Law Review, a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas law and events that affect families and the community of attorneys and professionals who serve them. Attorney Leslie Barrows is our featured guest today as she shares insight and information about our 5th and 14th Amendment right to due process of law and reminds us that we are all innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.

Right to due process of law in a criminal case, with Attorney Leslie Barrows

  • What “innocent until proven guilty” means in a criminal case?
  • The criminal justice process from investigation to arrest and trial
  • Right to due process of law is protected by the 5th and 14th Amendments
  • Due process applies to life, liberty and property
  • What happens if your procedural due process rights are violated?

Leslie Barrows is the principal founder of The Barrows Firm in Fort Worth, Texas. In her firm’s main practice areas of family law, criminal defense and juvenile law, Leslie is consistently challenged with dynamic cases and clients. When winning is what matters, many in the Fort Worth area go to The Barrows Firm based on their reputation and winning track record over the past decade. Leslie Barrows earned her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University and she earned her law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. She is a member of numerous organizations primarily focused in Tarrant County.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

PODCAST: 2016 Holiday Survival Tips with Attorney Leslie Barrows 
 

The Barrows Firm Law Review is a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas family, criminal, juvenile, probate and estate planning law and events. Attorney Leslie Barrows is our featured guest today as she shares insight and information about how to survive the holiday season with so many challenges on friends and families as people face challenges involving family law, criminal law and estate planning.

2016 Holiday Survival Tips with Attorney Leslie Barrows

  • No refusal weekends: Your expectations, rights and recourse under Texas law
  • How to make it through holiday celebrations and parties in high conflict families
  • Addressing the needs of aging relatives and being sensitive about estate planning
  • Creating new traditions and new expectations and families grow and change

Leslie Barrows is the principal founder of The Barrows Firm in Fort Worth, Texas. In her firm’s main practice areas of family law, criminal defense and juvenile law, Leslie is consistently challenged with dynamic cases and clients. When winning is what matters, many in the Fort Worth area go to The Barrows Firm based on their reputation and winning track record over the past decade. Leslie Barrows earned her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University and she earned her law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. She is a member of numerous organizations primarily focused in Tarrant County.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.