International parental kidnapping does exist, and does happen. In fact, major news networks reported in September 2014 that a Beijing-bound United Airlines flight had to return to Dulles International Airport after law enforcement was made aware that a mother was illegally taking her child out of the country. Fortunately, the father had a decree with language preventing the child from being removed from the United States without his approval and got wind of the travel before it was too late.
With today’s more mobile workforce and population, it is more important than ever to make sure you address these concerns with specific language in any decree or order regarding children. Without having a court-order to rely on, a parent does not have as strong a basis to prevent these international parental kidnappings. And once out of the country, it is very hard to force any return. There are international laws to refer to and attempt to rely upon, but both countries must be signatories, and even then, the process is expensive, long, and the result uncertain. You are better served by making sure language is in the decree or order preventing international travel without consent, and then making sure the proper law enforcement agencies have flagged the child’s passport in case the other parent attempts to flee.
Whether you are an attorney, a parent receiving child support, or a parent paying child support, you want to know that starting September 1, 2013, it is very likely that the cap on net monthly income used to calculate child support will rise from $7,500.00 to $8,550.00.
That means for one child, an obligor who ‘caps out’ would see his child support rise from $1,500.00 to $1,710.00 per month. That is a difference of $210.00 per month, $2,520.00 per year, and if a child was just born, an increase over the 18 years (at least) of child support owed of $45,360.00.
For obligors, it might be time to do a little additional financial planning – especially since that cap will likely rise again during the course of that child’s life.
For obligee’s, consider contacting the obligor and seeing if they would agree to forgo litigation and agree to the increase with an Agreed Order. That saves you both the time and money of going to Court.
The only thing constant … is change. Prior this change in the Texas Family Code, which takes effect September 1, 2013, you could not hold a person in contempt for failing to pay contractual alimony. You could have them held in contempt for failure to pay court-ordered spousal support, but not contractual alimony. For an in-depth discussion on the differences, click here.
Now you can. The Texas Legislature has amended the Texas Family Code to allow a person to be held in contempt for failure to pay contractual alimony up to the amount, and for the amount of time, that the Court could have awarded spousal maintenance. The Court can even issue a wage-withholding order, at least to that limited amount, which it could not do before.
What I do not know is how the Texas Supreme Court will react. Under their recent opinion, on which I wrote an article, wage-withholding order for alimony was denied based on that alimony being a debt, and wage garnishment for a debt other than child support or court-ordered spousal maintenance is barred by the Texas Constitution. That means that on September 1, 2013, we may very well have another law that contradicts the Texas Constitution. Who said family law doesn’t have constitutional implications? We will have to see what happens.
This post does not affect all counties – just those with associate judges, such as Tarrant, Dallas and Harris County, to name a few. The Legislature passed H.B. No. 1366, which amends multiple sections of the Texas Family Code by shortening the deadline to file de novo appeals of associate judge rulings from seven days to three days.
While the changes do not take effect until September 1, 2013, we might as well get in the habit of making sure the client knows there is a very limited amount of time to appeal that temporary orders ruling.
For those choosing to represent themselves, this means a very short turnaround if you get an adverse ruling in an Associate Judge’s courtroom and then want to appeal the decision or go hire a lawyer to appeal it.