According to my husband and his ex-wife’s divorce decree, she is awarded a set dollar amount for child support instead of a percentage of his earnings. Well he just got a new job with a higher income and now she says her lawyer is drawing up papers in order to get a full 20% of his net income, and that if he refuses to sign them she will take him to court.
However, my husband is in the military and being deployed overseas very soon. Are we legally obligated to do anything with this paperwork before he gets deployed, and if so, is there any way to postpone it until he gets back?
You present two dynamic issues that require some in-depth conversation and document review. As I do not have the Final Decree of Divorce or the luxury of an in-depth conversation with your husband in person, I will address your questions somewhat generally and recommend that you contact an attorney in Texas to ensure that your legal issues are specifically addressed.
That said, what your husband’s ex-wife is referencing is that in Texas, the state family code has a statutorily established table of support to determine child support amounts. As an example, a spouse with one child in Texas typically would be ordered to pay 20% of his or her net income on a monthly basis in child support. This amount may vary for a variety of reasons if the Court determines a variance from the statutory amount is appropriate. Examples may be if the child has special needs or requires some specific adjustment in the amount typically awarded.
As I previously stated, I would need some additional information to provide a comprehensive answer, but generally, after the rendition of a Final Order or Final Decree of Divorce establishing child support, a party requesting a change in support amounts would need to file a petition requesting modification of the previously ordered amounts. Both parties are entitled to present evidence in regards to whether or not the requested modification is appropriate under the law.
Typically, the basis for modification in Texas is a substantial or material change after three (3) years from the date of rendition of the previous order. A substantial or material change is a change in income of 20% or the equivalent of a difference of $100 in support due. Either party may petition the court for relief requesting either more support owed or less support due based upon the Obligor’s (party paying support) income amounts. While your husband is under no obligation to agree, if the change in income since the rendition of his previous order is more than 20% or would equate to a change in support in an amount greater than $100 in child support, it is very likely a Court will grant the modification. However, several factors may affect a court’s determination on the matter such as an increase in the number of children the former spouse is required to provide for, or if cost of providing court ordered health care has significantly increased for the spouse, or if they are a member of a union and those dues have increased in a dramatic fashion. The specifics of what can impact the amount would need to be discussed by your husband with an attorney licensed in Texas.
In response to the remainder of your question, it may be possible to postpone any specific action until after your husband returns under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act which can prohibit any material changes in regards to military personnel who are on active deployment overseas. The issue would be that if your husband’s ex-spouse is able to set a court date prior to his deployment date. If so, she would likely be able to have a court render an interim order that may materially change his obligation. If your husband wishes to postpone any changes to the current order prior to deployment, I would highly recommend seeking the assistance of an attorney.
Although I practice law in Texas, I cannot give you legal advice without thoroughly reviewing your case. Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell, P.C. does represent clients in Texas. Thank you for submitting a question to Cordell & Cordell, P.C.
Samuel M. Sanchez an Associate Attorney in the Fort Worth, Texas, office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. where his primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Mr. Sanchez is licensed in the state of Texas where he is a certified mediator, interview/interrogation specialist, and is appointed by Gov. Perry to the Board of Regents for Midwestern University. Mr. Sanchez received his Bachelor of Arts from Texas Tech University, and received his Juris Doctor from Wesleyan Law School in Fort Worth, Texas.