By Desireé Marie Bedasa of Hargrave Family Law
On September 1st hundreds of new laws went into effect in Texas, including laws that raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 and laws that allow women to pump breast milk anywhere they want. But the question we all want to know is: What laws went into effect that may affect me?
Here is a list of some key changes that anyone impacted by the Texas Family Code should be aware of:
1. Child Support Cap Increases
Per Texas law, the amount of child support owed is based on a non-custodial parent’s net resources. Once the net resources are determined, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) will apply a certain percentage to the non-custodial parent’s monthly net resources based on the number of children before the Court and the number of children the non-custodial parent has a duty to support. However, there is a “cap” on the amount of monthly net resources the OAG can apply. Prior to September 1st, that cap was $8,550. Now, the cap is $9,200. So, any child support orders issued after September 1st, will now be based on a cap of $9,200 rather than $8,550 regardless of when the matter was first filed.
2. School Lunches – Can I Go?
There is finally a clear answer to the question asked all too often: Am I allowed to eat lunch with my child at school? Yes. Section 153.073(a)(6) was amended to include school lunches, performances, and field trips in the types of school activities that parents have the right to attend at all times.
Over the years, we have received calls from several parents wanting help with obtaining a passport for their child because they could not locate the other parent, or the other parent refused to cooperate. Now, if you are a parent or a nonparent appointed as sole managing conservator, you have the right yourself to (1) apply for a passport for your child; (2) renew your child’s passport; and (3) maintain possession of your child’s passport.
4. Summer Take-Back Weekend
The Standard Possession Order (for parents who reside 100 miles or less apart) gives the non-custodial parent an extended summer possession period of 30 days. In the past, the custodial parent was entitled to possession of the child on one weekend during that 30 day block (the take-back weekend) provided the custodial parent gave the non-custodial parent notice on or before April 15th and provided the custodial parent picked up and returned the child back to the non-custodial parent. In theory, this sounds great, but in practice, it creates a big problem as the non-custodial parent is not required to be at their residence or even in the State of Texas when that weekend comes. The Family Code is finally on its way to fixing some of these problems. Now, the non-custodial parent must give the custodial parent written notice of the location the custodial parent is to pick up and return the child at least 15 days before the start of custodial parent’s take-back weekend. It does not change the fact that the non-custodial parent could be out of the country, but it’s a start.
5. Substituted Service Via Social Media
Other states can do it, so why not Texas? Effective September 1st, if a substituted service of citation is authorized under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court may allow service to be done via an electronic communication sent to the Respondent via social media. We’re curious to see how this plays out in Court.
For more information regarding the new laws affecting family law, take a look at the Family Law Section of the Texas Judiciary Legislative Update, 84th Legislature, which contains a compilation of the new legislation effecting titles 1, 2, 4, and 5 of the Family Code. The link to this report is: https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1047353/84th-tjc-legislative-report.pdf. Families affected by these changes can also consult an experienced family law attorney to determine any impact these new laws may have on their particular situation. Feel free to reach out to us at Hargrave Family Law at email@example.com.