Adoptions Attorney Leslie Barrows
What are geographic restriction orders affecting children in Texas family law cases? 
 

One of the more contentious issues in Texas family law cases is where a child may travel and reside. Before the court makes any order regarding the child, both parents have equal right to take a child wherever they want. After the court orders a limitation on travel and a restriction on where the child may live and go to school, there are consequences for violating the order of the court. It is important and often standard to seek a temporary order setting geographic restrictions, early in the family law matter, to prevent the other parent from removing a child from the current area of residence or outside the State of Texas.

Initial temporary and standing court orders are important to the travel and residential restrictions for children in family law cases, especially when one parent is a flight risk.

In some cases, one of the parents wants to move to another part of the state or out-of-state, near friends or family, because of a divorce. If that parent takes their child to another place before there is a court order regarding the child, it may be more difficult to compel the return of the child. If the petition for divorce or custody has not been filed yet, the parent moving to a new area or out-of-state, if in the new location long enough, could file a family law action in their new location and ask that court to take jurisdiction over the child and the underlying case. If one parent suspects the other might flee the area and take the child, it is important to act quickly in filing the case and seeking an court order establishing geographic restrictions.

A parent is free to travel and move where they like, but the child is not, because the court’s geographic restriction orders specifically state where the child may travel, and where they may reside, within an often set number of miles from a certain location, or within the limits of a county. During the divorce the court usually restricts a child’s travel to the State of Texas, unless the parents otherwise agree; often called standing orders. A standing order may also require the parent with visitation rights, to share phone numbers, locations and the whereabouts of the child at certain times.

Modifying and enforcing the geographic restrictions in the order of the court

The court’s order will state which parent has the right to determine where the child may travel and where they will reside. Within the geographic restrictions, the parent with rights to determine residence may move wherever they want. If however, that parent demonstrates a significant reason to move beyond the geographic restrictions, they may file a motion with the court to modify the geographic restrictions. In some cases, there are no geographic restrictions and others where there are general or very specific limitations.

If either parent does not obey the limits of a geographic restriction, there may be a court action to find the offending parent in contempt of court, to compel a parent to return the child, and a modification to the court’s order with greater restrictions or requiring supervised visitation. Even if the primary parent with right to chose residence, moves beyond the geographic restrictions, they may be forced to move back or risk losing the right to have the child live with them. At all times, the courts focus on the best interests of a child and the security of their development with family and their community.

The Barrows Firm is a resource for parents seeking information, advice and representation in protecting the best interests of their children in divorce and family law cases, where there may be issues involving the travel and residence of a child.

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.

 

Texas wiretapping: One-party consent required to record conversations 
 

Recording conversations, to use in legal strategy and submit as evidence in court, is illegal in the State of Texas, unless one party to the conversation consents. You may record your own conversation with another person, without their knowledge or consent, but you may not record two or more other people unless one of the people in the conversation consents to a recording. There are a few exceptions to this rule, and special rules for recording court hearings and public meetings. Individuals who violate the Texas Wiretapping Law may be subject to criminal penalties and civil fines.  While open communication can be useful in many legal cases, the Texas Wiretapping Law can be a double-edged sword. It is always best not to say anything to people that you would not want others to know.

The one-party consent rule and exceptions

The Texas Wiretapping Law, a one-party consent law, makes it a crime to record any “wire, oral, or electronic communication” unless one party to the conversation consents.[i] You may consent to record yourself in your own conversations with others. You may also obtain prior permission from one of the people in a conversation, to record their conversation with others. You may not, however, spy on and record the conversations of others, where they do not give you prior consent to record the conversation.

An exception to the consent requirement occurs when you record a conversation in which the people speaking do not have an “expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such exception.[ii]” This exception applies when the people having the conversation do not have an expectation to privacy, for example, in an elevator with other passengers, on a train or plane with other people nearby, in clear earshot, or in any other setting where people not involved in the conversation can clearly hear what is being said and there is no effort to keep the conversation private.

Recording court hearings and open meetings

When a court reporter is not available, or where you want your own independent recording of what happens at a court hearing, you may be allowed to record conversations and testimony in court, depending on the rules of the court. Each local court has its own rules for conduct in the courtroom, and recording may or may not be allowed by local court rules. In state trial courts in Texas you can record audio and video if you first obtain consent by the trial court judge, the parties and witnesses you plan to record. At the Texas appellate court you may record audio and video if you first submit a written request within 5 days of the court proceeding. In Texas federal courts you may not record any audio or video, it is strictly prohibited.

Recording meetings in Texas is allowed when the meeting is open to the public and subject the Texas Open Meetings Act. The use of audio and video may be limited based on the imposition of “reasonable rules to maintain order in a meeting.[iii]” In order to record an open meeting, you must be present at the meeting and be the one in control of the audio and, or video recording equipment.

Violating and challenging the Texas Wiretapping Law

Restating that the general rule of law in Texas is that it is illegal to record (or intercept) the communications of others, unless one of the parties gives consent, there are criminal and civil penalties and liabilities for violating the Texas Wiretapping Law. An offense of the Texas Wiretapping Law can be a second-degree felony, or a state jail felony in under certain circumstances, as identified in the Texas Penal Code.

Additionally, A party to a communication may sue a person who: “(1)  intercepts, attempts to intercept, or employs or obtains another to intercept or attempt to intercept the communication; (2)  uses or divulges information that he knows or reasonably should know was obtained by interception of the communication;  or (3)  as a landlord, building operator, or communication common carrier, either personally or through an agent or employee, aids or knowingly permits interception or attempted interception of the communication.[iv]

The facts and circumstances in each instance of recording audio and video of conversations and others may be subject to a legal defense or challenge, when suing or defending under the Texas Wiretapping Law. Issues of consent and intent to give consent or record can all be the subject of disagreement and may be properly decided by a judge or jury.

The Barrows Firm attorneys promote being knowledgeable about Texas laws such as the Texas Wiretapping Law, because ignorance of the law is no defense.

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] Texas Penal Code, Section 16.02

[ii] Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 18.02

[iii] Texas Government Code, Section 551.023

[iv] Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Section 123.001

PODCAST: Involuntary mental health commitments with Fort Worth 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 involuntary mental health commitments and families making tough decisions.

Involuntary mental health commitments with Fort Worth Attorney Leslie Barrows

  • Mental health and care needs at various ages and circumstances
  • Describing the facilities and care options available to individuals
  • Texas law, Mental Health Code and Code of Criminal Procedure
  • Approaching mental health commitments for short-term reasons
  • Long-term considerations for mental health commitments
  • Steps to take when considering taking action in seeking a commitment

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 an 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.

 

Involuntary mental health commitments in Texas 
 

Among individuals committing crimes and those with a criminal history, mental illness may be a commonly overlooked factor behind criminal conduct. Mental health problems, when untreated, can lead to imprisonment, homelessness and even death. Veterans of our U.S. armed services frequently suffer from temporary and permanent conditions making life after service a daily challenge. Family members can play a role in helping their relative get help and treatment through private and state-operated facilities. There are specific laws and procedures when an individual seeks the involuntary mental health commitment of another in the State of Texas. The decision to seek a commitment is not an easy decision, but it can save a life, especially when the individual may be dangerous to themselves and others.

In Texas, court-ordered mental health services, involuntary commitments, are pursuant to the Texas Mental Health Code.[i]

A county or district attorney or other adult may apply for court-ordered mental health services. The application, except when filed by a county or district attorney, must include a certificate of medical examination by a physician. The application must specify whether the order requested is for temporary or extended mental health services.

Probable Cause Hearing

When an event gives rise to the detention of a patient, often following an incident where the patient presented a threat of harm to themselves or others, a probable cause hearing must be held within 72 hours of the detention. The probable cause hearing takes place before an available magistrate or justice of the peace. The probable cause hearing allows the state to present a physician’s Certificate of Medical Exam and supporting affidavit. At the probable cause hearing, the Application for Detention, filed by the county or district attorney, or other adult, is reviewed. The applicant, patient, friends and family may also present their testimony at the probable cause hearing. At the hearing’s conclusion, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the detained patient during the remaining process, if the court finds that an order for continued detention is appropriate on the facts and circumstances.

Final Hearing

Before the probable cause hearing takes place, the court schedules a final hearing, to take place within 30 days of the filing of the original commitment application. Pending examination, treatment and observation may be cause for the court to continue the final hearing as necessary. The final hearing is more formal and takes place before a judge and the Texas rules of evidence apply. The examining physician, social worker(s), health care professional(s), friends, family members and the patient may testify at the final hearing. The judge makes a finding whether the patient is mentally ill and likely to cause harm to themselves, to others, or is in a state of deterioration, based on temporary or longer lasting conditions that substantially affect the patient’s ability to function normally. The judge may sign a final order of commitment and the patient may be committed to a state hospital, designed to be a therapeutic community, for the duration and under the conditions of the final order.

Other types of involuntary commitments and court proceedings

There are other types of commitment hearings available to protect the health and safety of the patient and others. A forced medications hearing[ii] may be held to obtain a court order authorizing the administration of psychoactive medication, most often for a patient already ordered to impatient mental health services.

When a criminal defendant is charged with felony or misdemeanor punishable by jail or imprisonment, a competency hearing is held to determine whether the individual defendant is incompetent to stand trial, where they are unable to understand a consultant with an attorney, unable to understand the charges against them, for example[iii]. Criminal commitments follow the Texas rules of criminal procedure and are formal, much like the civil involuntary commitment hearings mentioned in this article.

The Barrows Firm attorneys advise and represent individuals and family members involved in the process of involuntary mental health commitments and have additional resources available.

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] Texas Mental Health Code, Section 574.001 et seq

[ii] Texas Mental Health Code, Section 574.106

[iii] Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 46B

Image Source: Huffington Post http://bit.ly/1SCxbo2

Updating estate planning and insurance documents after divorce 
 

Divorce and remarriage are significant events affecting estate planning and insurance plans and conditions. Texas law presumes that what is written in an individual’s will, trust, power of attorney, and insurance beneficiary designations, is intended to survive as originally written, regardless of a substantial change in life circumstances. If we fail to update our estate planning and insurance, we could leave our families with significant and unexpected peril in the event we die or become temporarily incapacitated and cannot manage our affairs. From the care of children to the disposition of assets and money, there are several important reasons to update estate planning and insurance after a divorce or remarriage.

Wills and trusts should be updated after a divorce or remarriage.

When we make our last will and testaments it is customary to identify your spouse by name, instead of stating that we wish to give our assets and property to “spouse at time of death,” which might not stand up in court in a will contest. The main point of a will is to specifically identify exactly how we want our affairs and assets distributed upon our death. Since we name beneficiaries in our will, we should update those beneficiaries when we divorce or remarry, and if we fail to do so, our ex-spouse will still take under the will and there is nothing anyone can do about it. A divorce or remarriage will not override what is written in a will, by operation of law.

The care and custody of our children is another important consideration when updating wills and estate planning documents. Imagine your will was written several years ago when you were married, and at the time you named your then sister-in-law to be the custodian of your minor children in the event of your death or incapacity. Assume for this example, you are divorced and no longer in good relations with your now ex-sister-in-law. If your ex-spouse is deceased or no longer has parental rights, and you die or become incapacitated, the ex-sister-in-law will become your children’s custodian, if that is what the will says.

Power of attorney of healthcare and financial affair documents should be updated after divorce or remarriage.

Remember that vacation to Europe you took with your wife when you all were still happily married? Remember the power of healthcare you signed, appointing the ex-sister-in-law with the power to make health related decisions in the event you or your wife were able to do so? Assume you divorced your wife and the relationships with the in-laws are no longer positive. All you need is to be in a car wreck one day and in critical condition, on life support. Do you trust your ex-sister-in-law, the one who testified against you in the custody hearing? What if she is in control of your finances as well, spending all your savings on experimental treatments? If you make it, will there be any money left? The court will not override your previous power of attorney elections. Everyone should update power of attorney documents when they divorce or remarry.

Insurance policies and beneficiary designations should be updated after divorce or remarriage.

In most divorce cases, especially involving children, one spouse or parent may be ordered to maintain insurance to protect themselves and the children. Courts typically enter orders regarding life insurance, homeowners, medical, eye and dental insurance. When the topic of insurance arises out of divorce or remarriage, it is important to update the beneficiary elections on policies. It is very easy to overlook the “pay on death” designations in insurance policies, especially if they were made many years ago.

To prevent life insurance proceeds from going to an ex-spouse, remember to update the beneficiary designations so that in the event of death or incapacity, your proper beneficiaries receive policy proceeds, not an ex-spouse or significant other you dated several years ago. Imagine in a worst-case scenario that an ex-spouse considers you worth more dead than alive, and they know they are still the named policy beneficiary. Everyone should update their insurance policies and beneficiary designations when they divorce or remarry.

The Barrows Firm attorneys promote being proactive and avoiding unnecessary family emergencies by keeping estate planning and insurance policies up to date, reflecting divorce and remarriage.

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.

 

Financial issues in divorce and family law with Fort Worth 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 the financial issues and concerns of men, women and families in divorce and family law cases.

Financial issues in divorce and family law with Fort Worth Attorney Leslie Barrows

  • Financial disclosures and the discovery process in divorce and family law
  • Asset evaluations and classifications of joint marital or separate individual property
  • Income issues and determinations in divorce, child support, other family law matters
  • Tax issues in divorce including filing status, claiming dependent exemptions, negotiating tax issues and liabilities
  • Updating your will, estate planning documents and insurance policies after a divorce

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 an 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.

Separate and community property division in Texas divorce 
 

Texas is a community property state and many people believe that means in a divorce each spouse gets an even half of everything, owned by both spouses, added together and divided down the middle. It is true that many marital assets are evenly divided, however there are more factors involved. The Texas Family Code defines community property as all property acquired during the marriage, other than separate property.[i] The property each spouse brings to a marriage, such as furnishings and personal items, is considered separate property. Additionally, separate property includes assets and items received by gift, through a will or an inheritance. An amount of money recovered in a personal injury lawsuit is also separate property.

There is a rebuttable presumption that all property in a marriage is community property.

The presumption in Texas law is that all the property owned by a married couple is community property, and subject to equal division. The individual, who claims that certain assets are separate property, has the burden of proving that the asset was owned before the marriage or otherwise is separate property as defined by Texas law. Separate property can become community property through the commingling of assets. An example of commingled property is a gift of money that is spent by the recipient spouse on home repairs or an investment, and once the money is spent, it is no longer traceable or identifiable, as it becomes part of the value of the home or investment. To preserve the separate nature of property, it is best to keep that property separate from the marriage, in a separate financial account with documentation of the source of funds, for example.

Gifts are usually considered a good thing, but they can also lead to contested litigation.

Money given within a family, unless it is documented, can be the subject of disagreements and litigation during a divorce. The issue is whether the money was given to one spouse or was intended for the benefit of both. Texas law includes a presumption that money given by a mother to a son, for example, is intended for the benefit of the son as part of the natural parent-child relationship. This presumption, however, is rebuttable and the party in a divorce can challenge the presumption and present evidence supporting a claim regarding the intended beneficiary of a gift.

Using the example of the gift of money from mother to son, if the money is used by the son to make a purchase that both spouses equally use, such as hot tub, it may be considered mixed property. Mixed property is another classification that is a blend of separate and community property.

Once property is classified, the community property can be divided and allocated.

Property distribution and settlement among spouses can involve a calculation of the value of separate property and a credit toward each. After the separate property is identified, the marital property can be divided. The division may be an equal split down the middle or it can be increased or decreased based on a variety of factors included in the Texas Family Code chapter on property division.

Judges can determine which spouse receives what items of property and the division of cash assets, however, most attorneys can advise their clients on what the judge is likely to do, and urge the parties to compromise and settle their claims to property by agreement and save time and resources they would otherwise spend at hearing and trial on property division.

In many cases, the classification of property is addressed in a pre-marital agreement.

While some young couples barely have enough money to take their honeymoon, others come to a marriage with significant assets they wish to protect and keep separate. A pre-marital agreement, entered into by both parties, can identify assets, name their source and classification as separate property, for example. If however, the parties commingle the separate property, the pre-marital agreement may not be effective in a divorce and property division. Attorneys who work with clients seeking pre-marital agreements have the opportunity to advise the client about not commingling or mixing separate property to the extent it would lose its classification.

Many marriages end up in divorce over impassable disagreements among spouses over money and property. Even the threat of filing for divorce could turn a comment about “who gets what” can lead to the set of circumstances where the spouses end up in divorce and property division. Knowing how Texas law generally applies to property in a marriage is important for anyone interested in getting married, as well as for those who are married and considering divorce.  

The Barrows Firm represents spouses in divorce with a variety of complex financial and matters.

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] Texas Family Code, Chapter 3, General Rules for Separate and Community Property.

Income tax issues and options in divorce and family law 
 

During an open divorce case, the parties identify all the income, assets and debts of the marital estate, which are divided between spouses based on Texas law and the Family Code rules applied to each individual case. The Temporary Orders hearing in family court is the proceeding at which the Court orders the preliminary division of financial responsibilities and property.[i] Child support and spousal maintenance are addressed at the Temporary Orders hearing, for which there are tax implications. The Temporary Orders hearing may also include tax liability and issues regarding tax filing status and dependency exemptions. Tax issues can be negotiated among the parties to reach agreements on financial issues. When the individuals in divorce are able to independently decide among tax filing options, a financial and tax advisor can identify the financial benefits and burdens associated with various options.

Tax consequences of child and spousal support

Child support and alimony referred to as spousal maintenance are often awarded on an interim basis in the Temporary Orders. Child support payments are not deductible by the parent paying child support and the recipient parent may not taxed on child support payments received.[ii] The party paying maintenance can deduct those amounts on their income tax return. The spouse receiving maintenance payments must report the amounts as income.[iii] Note however, that voluntary money given between spouses, to pay the other’s rent, mortgage or expenses is not considered maintenance, for purposes of income taxes; only court-ordered maintenance has tax consequences.

Tax exemptions for dependents

The custodial parent who has the child for the greater part of the year, and who is identified in the Temporary Orders as the custodial parent, receives the right to claim the dependency exemption and tax credit for a child, unless otherwise ordered or agreed to by the parties.[iv] The parent entitled to the dependent exemption can offer the exemption to the other parent. If there are other income and expense obligations, the exchange of a child tax exemption may be in lieu of other financial options during the division of the parties’ finances. The IRS Code does not allow both parents to claim a tax exemption, and since it may not be shared, the parties who want to split the tax benefit can estimate the amount of tax benefit and address the amount in a divorce financial agreement.

Tax filing status options

Deciding whether to file jointly or separately depends on your marital status on December 31, of the preceding year.[v] If you were still legally married on the last day of the year, with your divorce pending, you may file a joint return and receive the benefit of a lower tax burden because certain tax benefits are not available for an individual who files a separate return. Despite the tax consequences there are some situations in which filing as married filing separately makes sense. For example, when your spouse refuses to cooperate or you are concerned they may not be accurately reporting their income and expenses, and you fear that filing a joint return with them could subject you to the liability of a tax audit.

Head of Household is another tax filing status option, where you may be considered single despite not yet being divorced or legally separated as of December 31 of the preceding year.[vi] Heads of household filers often pay fewer taxes those filing as single because you are entitled to more deductions and benefits. To qualify for Head of Household status there are requirements you must meet:

  1. You paid for more than half of the housing and property maintenance payments of the home during the tax year;
  2. For more than six months your spouse was not living with you in the home;
  3. Your dependent child lived in the home with you for more than half of the taxable year; and
  4. You have the right to claim the dependent exemption for your child.

Dividing income and assets in an open divorce

If during your divorce, you sell the marital home there may be capital gains tax liability. Income received from all sources during the tax year must be included in your tax return. Each spouse has an equal right to the income derived by jointly held property, and in divorce, usually one-half of the income from the property is taxable as to each spouse. Deductions from medical expenses, mortgage interest and other itemized deductions can be equally divided or may be solely given by one spouse to the other if both spouses agree as such.

These general rules about taxes, exemptions, credits and filing status options are subject to exceptions. In the event of prior unpaid tax obligations and other complex financial matters affecting tax obligations, a tax attorney works with the family law attorney to help clients negotiate the best tax positions based on their facts and circumstances.

The Barrows Firm represents spouses in divorce with a variety of complex financial and matters.

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] Nolo Legal Encyclopedia, Temporary Orders in Family Court: Quick Decisions on Support and Custody.

[ii] Internal Revenue Service, Dependents & Exemptions.

[iii] Internal Revenue Service, Alimony Paid.

[iv] Internal Revenue Service, Personal Exemptions and Dependents.

[v] Internal Revenue Service, Filing Status.

[vi] Internal Revenue Service, Filing Status, head of household qualifications.

Veterans Bankruptcy Legal Clinic in Dallas: Feb 3, 2016 
 

Metroplex Veterans Legal Services is hosting a Veterans bankruptcy legal clinic on February 3, 2016, at Cityplace Events, 2711 N. Haskell Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75204.

The clinic is a partnership with the State Bar of Texas, and the Bankruptcy Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.

The clinic will immediately follow the Bankruptcy 101 Course held in connection with the Advanced Consumer Bankruptcy Course.  There are bankruptcy attorneys who have agreed to take pro bono cases from this clinic.

Veterans must register on-line in advance of the clinic. Click/tap here: Metroplex Veterans Legal Services.

Please be kind and share this post to help spread the word!

Veterans Bankruptcy Clinic Feb 2016

Child support for minor and adult children with disabilities 
 

When the parents of children with special needs are divorced, the family court judge may make a child support determination to provide for necessary long-term needs for the support of a minor or adult child with a disability that prevents that child from self-supporting, and that support order can be temporary or indefinite. The First District Court of Appeals, serving the Houston area, recently upheld a trial court’s order of indefinite child support for the care of a cognitively disabled 28-year-old, in the case, Thompson v. Smith, No. 01-15-00010-CV.[i]

The Texas Family Code includes law on the issue of child support for disabled children.

The Texas Family Code provides for court-ordered child support until a child reaches the age of 18, graduates from high school, is emancipated through marriage, dies, or is disabled for an indefinite period.[ii]  In determining who will be ordered to pay child support, the court considers the financial ability of each parent, whose rights have not been terminated, to pay support, based on the facts and circumstances in every matter brought before the court by a party seeking court-ordered support. Where the issue of indefinite support arises in connection with a minor or adult child with disability, the court weighs the factors involved in the required care and support for the disabled child.

The court may order support for a disabled child, adult or minor. Either or both parents may be required to pay child support for a disabled child upon the finding that: “(1) the child, whether institutionalized or not, requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a mental or physical disability and will not be capable of self-support; and (2) the disability exists, or the cause of the disability is known to exist, on or before the 18th birthday of the child.[iii]” When the court orders the payment of child support for a disabled child, the court will also determine which parent or person will have physical custody or guardianship of the child in order to receive support payments, and in some cases the court may order payments directly to a disabled child over the age of 18.

Several factors in Thompson v. Smith were considered by the court in awarding indefinite child support for the parties’ adult child with permanent disabilities.

Mark Thompson and Karen Smith divorced in 1992 when their daughter, J.L., was seven years old. By agreement of parties, Thompson provided child support for J.L. and the parties other children under the standard child support provisions in the Family Code. Smith petitioned the trial court to order Thompson provide support for J.L. in 2013, when J.L. was 28-years-old. “At trial, the evidence showed that at birth, J.L. had a congenital defect that caused the malformation of her jaw and tongue, and aparaxia, a condition caused by brain damage that affects motor skills. In addition, when J.L. was approximately five months old, she suffered an injury; she has been intellectually disabled ever since.[iv]

The court heard evidence from the parties, determined that J.L. was unable to retain information on a day-to-day basis, and needed supervision and assistance with daily hygiene and several basic life functions. The evidence also proved that J.L. was not able to obtain a driver’s license, prepare meals and her emotional instability made it difficult and impracticable that J.L. would ever be able to maintain basic employment to contribute to her financial needs. In this case, her mother, Smith indicated that she would be J.L.’s primary caregiver and would provide for her needs. In some instances, a child with permanent disabilities will reside at a care facility or with a third-party caregiver, who may receive support payments, when a primary custodial parent is unable to provide necessary care. The court also considered the availability of additional benefits such as Social Security Insurance (SSI) in balancing the availability of financial assistance and J.L.’s needs for support.[v]

After considering the financial ability of Thompson and Smith as well as the availability of SSI benefits, the appellate court reviewed the trial court’s ruling along with the monthly expenses related to J.L.’s basic living expenses and medical bills. The appellate court upheld the trial court’s findings that J.L. was disabled and required care and supervision, and the order for continuing child support was proper.[vi]

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 and Facebook. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

[i] Texas First District Court of Appeals, Thompson v. Smith, No. 01-15-00010-CV, Opinion issued Dec. 17, 2015.

[ii] Tex Fam Code § 154.001, Court-Ordered Child Support

[iii] Tex Fam Code § 154.302, Court-Ordered Support for Disabled Child

[iv] See HNi at page 2/18, Background.

[v] See HNi at page 15/18, Determination of support obligation.

[vi] See HNi at page 17/18, Conclusion.