Sunday, February 28, 2010

How long do I have to pay child support?

In Texas, the court can order one or both parents to pay child support until:

· the child is 18 years of age or graduates from High School, whichever occurs later;

· the child is emancipated through marriage, or through removal of disabilities of minority;

· the death of the child; or

· indefinitely if the child is considered to be disabled.

All of these time intervals are fairly self-explanatory except for bullet point number two. According to the Texas Family Code, any minor may petition to remove the disabilities of minority if they are:

· a resident of the state of Texas;

· 17 years old, or at least 16 and not living with their parents or legal guardians; and/or

· self-supporting and managing their own financial affairs.

Except for age requirements specifically stated in the constitution and in Texas statutes, a minor whose disabilities are removed legally has the capacities of an adult. This, in the State’s eyes, eliminates the need for a parent to pay child support.

If you need a Texas Child Support Lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How do Texas courts determine the amount of child support owed?

In Texas, as in most other states, several factors are considered when determining how much money is required as payment for child support. Among the factors taken into consideration are:

• the age and needs of the child;
• the ability of both parents to contribute to the support of their child;
• the amount of time each parent is in possession of or has access to the child;
• any childcare expenses incurred due to the employment of one or both parents;
• the amount of alimony or spousal maintenance being paid from one parent to the other; and
• the amount of the payer’s net resources.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all of the factors considered when determining child support payments. The Texas Family Code sums up the court’s charge by stating that “any reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into consideration the circumstances of the parents” are to be observed.

While the court renders the final decision about child support, it does not necessarily have to make the “who pays” and “how much” determination. In an effort to promote the amicable settlement of disputes such as these, Texas law has provided a statute that allows the parties to develop a written agreement provisioning support for the child in question. If the court finds that the agreement is indeed in the child’s best interest, it will render judgment in accordance with the agreement.

If you need a Texas Child Support Lawyer or a Texas Collaborative Lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What is a 1031 Exchange?

A 1031 exchange is a tax planning strategy that allows individuals to defer capital gains taxes. Real estate investors may qualify for this type of exchange when they sell a property and reinvest the proceeds in a “like-kind” property.

This leads to the question of what qualifies as “like-kind” property. The IRS states that “properties are of like-kind, if they are of the same nature or character, even if they differ in grade or quality.” In a 1031 exchange the definition of “like-kind” properties does not apply to livestock of different sexes, or to exchanges of inventory, stocks, bonds, notes, other securities or evidence of indebtedness. One important note: in an exchange of real property it generally does not matter if the properties are improved or unimproved. What does matter, however, is whether or not both properties are located in the United States.

In order to participate in a 1031 exchange, the IRS requires that a qualified intermediary facilitate the exchange. This intermediary will be able to walk an individual through all of the special rules found in the Internal Revenue Code regarding 1031 Tax Free Exchanges.

The attorneys at Peterson Law Group have formed a qualified intermediary called Brazos 1031 Exchange Company. If you have any questions or would like to perform a 1031 Tax Free Exchange, contact them today.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How do I change my name?

There are a couple of different ways to change your name. First, if you are getting a divorce, a section may be added to the final divorce decree requesting the name change. The court may then change the person’s name to one that was previously used by the applicant. In some instances, the court may not grant the name change, but it cannot do so simply to keep the last names of family members the same.

If a person wishes to change their name but is not currently going through a divorce, they may file a petition for their change of name in the county in which they reside. They must include in the petition:

a. Their current name and address
b. The full name they wish to be known as
c. The reason(s) they are requesting a change in name
d. Whether they have been the subject of a final felony conviction
e. Whether they are a registered sex offender
f. A legible and complete set of their fingerprints

They must also include, or provide reasonable explanations for not including, their sex, date of birth, race, driver’s license number, social security number, and their assigned FBI number (if known). It also helps to include any offenses above Class C Misdemeanor that may appear on the applicant’s record and notice of any warrants that may be out for the applicant’s arrest.

It is important to note that a change of name does not release a person from liability incurred under a previous name or effect a right a person held under a previous name.

If you need assistance changing your name, contact Peterson Law Group.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Adoption: What is required to adopt a child in Texas?

Adoption is defined as a procedure that establishes a parent-child relationship between a child and adopting parents. In Texas, any adult, single or married, can petition to adopt a child who may be adopted.

So, who may be adopted? Here, any child who is living in Texas when a petition is filed, and who meets one of the following stipulations is considered eligible for adoption.

1. The child’s parents are no longer living and/or the parent-child relationship between the child and each living parent has been terminated;

2. a stepparent is petitioning to adopt their spouse’s child/children and the parent-child relationship between the child’s other parent has been terminated;

3. the former stepparent of a child who is at least two years old has been caring for the child for six months, the parent/child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, and the other parent consents to the adoption; or

4. the person seeking the adoption of a child who is at least two years old is the child’s former stepparent, the parent/child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, and the former stepparent has been caring for the child for at least one year preceding the adoption.

In general, a child who is to be adopted must have been living with the person who is petitioning for at least six months before the adoption is legally granted. While this six month “trial” period is technically required, Texas courts have been known to waive or shorten the period if doing so is deemed to be in the best interest of the child.

In all honesty, adopting a child can be a difficult process. Unfortunately, many potential adoptive parents are frightened or intimidated by the amount of time and attention to detail that is necessary to adopt a child.

If you need a Texas adoption lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.