Jurisdiction and Child Support

Jurisdiction and Child Support

Jurisdiction Issues

A divorce may be filed and maintained in Texas if either party to suit has been a resident of the state for 6 months and the county of suit for 90 days. (Texas Family Code §6.301). A divorce proceeding is an "in rem" proceeding meaning that it is a proceeding over a thing as opposed to a person. Therefore, only one spouse must meet this requirement for the Court to have jurisdiction over the case, and be able to grant the divorce.

However, the court must have jurisdiction over both spouses in order to have the power to divide assets and liabilities or to render orders regarding the children. Section 6.305 of the Texas Family Code states that personal jurisdiction over a non-resident party may only be acquired if:

  1. This state was the last marital residence of the parties and the suit is filed before the second anniversary of the date on which the marital residence ended; or
  2. If there is any other basis consistent with the constitutions of the state and the U.S.

(Texas Family Code §6.305).

Further, Personal Jurisdiction can be acquired over a non-resident that has voluntarily come to the State and are served within State borders. Flores v. Melo-Palacios, 921 S.W.2d 399 (Tex. App. - Corpus Christi 1996, no writ).

It is important to note that Texas residents serving in the armed forces and stationed outside of Texas or the U.S. may still be considered a resident of Texas. Military personnel, who have not been previous residents of Texas, but have been stationed at one or more military installations in Texas for at least the past six months, and at a military installation in a county of Texas for the prior 90 days, are considered to be Texas residents and residents of that county for the purposes of filing for divorce.

In short, if you have been living in Texas for the last 6 months and the County of your home/residence for at least the last 90 days, then it is most likely that you will file your divorce in that county. Contact us today if you have any questions or would like further information.

New Texas Child Support Maximums

Texas child support is calculated based on how much money the Payor - the parent paying child support - makes monthly. However, there is a cap on the amount of monthly net resources from which child support can be calculated. Before September 1, 2013, if the average net monthly resources are $7,500 or less, the amount of child support is calculated as a percentage of the average net monthly resources. On and after September 1, 2013 if the average net monthly resources are $8,550 or less, the amount of child support is calculated as a percentage of the average net monthly resources.

However, this is not an across-the-board automatic increase for all child support payments in the state. The new payment standards are only applicable for those with a gross annual income of at least $124,086. Another way of looking at it is that the new payment standards increase the maximum net monthly income resources available from $7,500 to $8,550 when making initial statutory child support determinations.

Texas uses the following percentages to determine the obligor's payments:

  • 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

However, the formula takes into consideration whether the parent is paying for children from other relationships, and other factors. Therefore, these percentages could change.

The maximum child support cap increase is not retroactive in the sense that it would cause maximum child support payments made in the past to increase, however the preexisting child support orders can be modified to reflect the new parameters. The parties would need a modification of their divorce decree or child support order that is approved and ordered by the court for the new amount to be enforceable.

In sum, the cap on the amount of monthly net resources from which child support can be calculated was increased on September 1, 2013. If you feel this could affect your current payment arrangement, have any questions, or would like further information, contact our office today to schedule your appointment.