Throughout the Texas divorce process, highly-charged emotions are the norm and both spouses tend to behave in a less than favorable manner. Sometimes husbands or wives lash out simply because they are hurt, feeling angry or betrayed.
Here are five traps you want to be on the lookout for. Don’t react, but keep notes and documented records of your spouse’s wrongful conduct.
DIVORCE TRICK #1
The spouse paying child support or alimony may report reduced income, in hopes of receiving a lower support order. Typically, child support obligors are W-2 employees with established, consistent incomes by which support guidelines will apply. However, many income earners receive overtime or commission, creating a widely fluctuating payment schedule. In addition, the statutory guidelines are adversely affected by numerous deductions and other factors such as:
- A self-employed non-custodial parent
- Substantial non-employment derived income
- Unreimbursed business expenses
- Taxes and health insurance
- Special needs or disabled children
Regardless of whether you are paying or receiving child support, a Texas child support attorney can identify errors, correct miscalculations and structure complex agreements that can work for both parents.
Are you going back to court for a child support modification?
Has the previously-entered child support order become outdated due to a substantial change in circumstances? Has the obligor’s income changed, or has the cost to support the child increased for the custodial parent? Recognizing unfair or outdated child support orders after your divorce is critical because specific procedures must be followed in order to modify support and minimize costly arrearages. This can often be done amicably by an agreement between the parties. If, however, court intervention is required, you can be confident that a lawyer will identify and raise all relevant factors to your benefit.
DIVORCE TRICK #2
An angry spouse will make idle threats to the other. The most common include:
- “I’ll quit my job before I pay you that much support.” Not likely. This is usually an attempt to bluff you into a lower support amount. Ask your attorney whether you should “call” this bluff. Document the statement right away. Write down the date, circumstances and exact words used. Better yet, if your (former) spouse sends this to you by e-mail or, in a letter, save it for use as evidence. Judges do not tolerate this kind of bullying and they can find interesting and painful ways to send the offending spouse the message.
- “It doesn’t make sense for us to be paying two lawyers; it’s just a waste of money that we could otherwise keep. Let’s just both use mine.” Aside from the obvious conflict of interest here, the spouse making this plea wants to manipulate you and control the process by attempting to set the agenda.
- “You’ll never see the children again.” Usually an attempt to get you to stay in the relationship. Texas divorce judges prefer frequent and continuing contact with both parents, so this is seldom a legitimate threat.
- “If the court finds out how you’ve behaved, you’ll never see the children.” Family court judges aren’t outraged by a lot of things your spouse thinks are outrageous: your promiscuity as a teenager, a several-years-past drug habit, infidelity, moderate drinking, etc. These are things which the judge realizes may not reflect poorly on your parenting qualifications, so he or she will most likely not take them seriously.
DIVORCE TRICK #3
If one spouse has moved out of the family home and provides the primary source of income for the family, oftentimes this spouse will refuse to pay any of the household bills or send any support until he or she is forced to do it by the court.
DIVORCE TRICK #4
If there is no support order in place, the obligor spouse will often wait until the latest possible day to pay support money, even if he or she has the money to send.
DIVORCE TRICK #5
An angry spouse may petition the court for primary custody of the children even though the parties actually agree to a joint custody or visitation arrangement.
These are just a few of the sneaky things that can and have happened in Texas divorces. They are destructive to any meaningful settlement discussion. In addition, the bitterness that remains months and years later hampers the relationship between you and your spouse’s ability to co-parent together.