A neutral expert is someone who does not know either party involved in a case but has expertise that applies to the case. For example, an expert in manufacturing rivets or oil and gas pipelines could be utilized. If each party hires their own expert, then they will have what is called dueling experts, which can create controversy. In most cases, one party will be unable to afford as quality of an expert as the other party can, which will result in an unequal situation. The party who wants all of the money will obtain a very successful and well-known expert who will not actually testify neutrally; they will testify in favor of the party who hired them because they will be getting paid to do so.
Texas does not have a legal separation, and an individual does not have the benefit of the court to help with a separation until they’ve filed for divorce. Once the divorce has been filed, the court can get involved.
There are experts to assist in the making of custody arrangements in Texas and parenting plans that have been developed by the Texas Family Bar. Alternatively, parties can make decisions and reach an agreement between themselves, which is always better for the children as long as the arrangement is in the best interests of the children. For example, if it doesn’t make sense to have an arrangement that would require one parent to drive an excessive amount to see the children on a particular weeknight, then the parties could allow that parent to have an extra day on the weekend. Parenting plans take care of all the details involved with unique schedules and circumstances.
Post-divorce mediation occurs after a divorce is final. For example, if it has been 10 years since a divorce and the father of the children has received several large raises and is making a lot more money than he was when they got divorced, then a post-divorce mediation could help the mother of the children receive a higher amount of child support. Texas has statutory child support, so it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal unless there are special needs for one of the children or special travel arrangements, which might be the case if one parent lives overseas.
Child support is calculated differently depending upon the situation. If the party who is paying child support is employed by a company, then their net income (which is the amount of income left after taxes and deductions have been taken out) will be considered. If the party who is paying child support is self-employed, then the taxes and deductions will be higher, so their net income might be lower. Twenty percent of the net income is assigned for one child, 25 percent of the net income is assigned between two children, 30 percent of the net income is assigned between three children, and it increases from there. If a blended family is involved, different considerations must be made. For example, if a mother had two children from a previous relationship and one from the relationship from which she is seeking the divorce, the father would only have to pay for the one child who is biologically his.
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