Child Support Increases and Decrease

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Child Support Modification Process

If your circumstances have changed, your order may be eligible for review and modification. Renken Law Firm, PLLC is familiar with what is required and how to pursue a modification of your monthly child support obligation.


Eligibility for a Payment Modification 

Your child support order is eligible for modification only if one (or more) of the following is true:

  • The order was established/last modified more than three years ago.
  • The monthly amount of the child support order differs by either (a) 20% or (b) $100 from the amount that would be awarded, according to child support guidelines.


A material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the child support order was last set.


What is a “Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances”? 

In relation to receiving a modification, this phrase applies to one of these situations:

  • The noncustodial parent’s income has increased or decreased.
  • The noncustodial parent is legally responsible for additional children.
  • The child’s (or children’s) medical insurance coverage has changed.


The child (or children) are now living with a different parent.


How Long Before a Modification Takes Effect? 

There is no typical timeframe for modification. Contact Renken Law Firm PLLC as soon as modification eligibility occurs.  You have to modify the court order for child support to be reduced or increased, it does not happen automatically. You must be proactive.  Contact us and we can evaluate your case.

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Enforcing Child Support Payments in Texas

Enforcing Child Support Payments in Texas

April 18, 2023

Unfortunately, just because a court orders a parent to pay child support does not mean they actually will. Enforcement actions can be taken by the attorney general in order to collect court ordered child support when a parent fails to pay. Read below to learn more about how child support agencies enforce court orders to collect support payments in the state of Texas. Tools for Collecting Child Support Child support agencies have many tools for enforcing child support orders. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common methods CSS uses when attempting to collect past-due child support. Wage Withholding All child support orders include the enforcement tool of immediate wage withholding (also called “wage deduction,” “wage garnishment,” and “income (or earnings) assignment”). The state can order the obligor’s employer to deduct the child support amount from the obligor’s paycheck. Employers must deduct the payment from the obligor’s paycheck just like any other payroll deduction (such as income tax or social security). Depending on the order, the employer will send the payment to either the local child support office or the custodial parent. Wage withholding is very effective when the obligor has a regular job with a steady, predictable paycheck. However, it often isn’t the best enforcement method when the obligor changes jobs often, is self-employed, or is unemployed. When that’s the case, other tools come into play. Withholding Other Income Wages aren’t the only income that state agencies can withhold to cover unpaid child support. CSS may also order that money be withheld from payments such as commission income, employment bonuses, and pension benefits. State child support agencies can also participate in the Administrative Offset Program. This program allows interception of certain federal payments, such as pay to vendors who perform work for a government agency and federal retirement …

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Do I Have to Pay Child Support Without a Job

Do I Have to Pay Child Support Without a Job?

March 24, 2023

Many parents wonder, ‘Do I Have to Pay Child Support Without a Job?’ The answer to this situation is that even if a noncustodial parent is unemployed, they will still owe child support. There are few exceptions to this rule. Speaking with an experienced attorney can help you make the best choices for your unique situation. What is child support?  Child support is money a parent pays to help with the cost of raising a child. This includes costs like food, housing, clothing, school supplies, daycare, and activities. A court can order one parent to pay child support to the other parent. The obligation to pay child support begins when the judge signs an order. A court can sometimes also order a parent to pay retroactive or “back” child support. Texas law expects both parents to provide financial support for their child, even without a court order. A court could order a parent to pay back child support if: They do not live with the child; and They have not helped support the child financially. Who pays child support? Who receives it?  In most custody arrangements, a child lives with one parent most of the time. This is the “custodial” parent. The “non-custodial” parent has visitation rights on a regular basis. The non-custodial parent (the “obligor”) has the obligation to make child support payments. The custodial parent (the “obligee”) has the right to receive these payments. How can I get child support? A court can order child support as part of the following legal proceedings: Divorce; Child custody case, also known as a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR); Paternity case; Family violence protective order case; or Modification case, if a court order affecting the child is already in place. What if the obligor is unemployed or underemployed?  If the …

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How to Handle Summer Visitation as a Divorced Parent

How to Handle Summer Visitation as a Divorced Parent?

March 12, 2023

It is common for children of divorced parents to spend more time with their non-custodial parent during the long summer months. While this can be a great chance for your child to spend quality time with their other parent, it can also be a source of anxiety and stress on the parent with primary custody, and in some cases the child as well. Listed below are some tips on how to handle long summer visitations. Set Your Mind at Ease When your child is preparing to go away for summer visitation, do some advance planning that will help you feel comfortable with the vacation or the trip. Find out where your child is going and get the contact information. Ask questions so you know what the plan is. If your child will be traveling, get the details of the itinerary. Make sure your ex understands your child’s capabilities when it comes to swimming, hiking, or other activities. If your child is going to another state to stay with your ex, find out who will provide child care while your ex is at work. Stay in Touch If your child is in elementary school, this might be a good time to get him a cell phone. That way, you can reach him directly without having to go through your ex and you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you can call at any time. Stay in touch, but don’t call several times a day. You have to let go a little and let your child and ex have time together without you involved. Find out if your child will have internet access. If so, set up an IM or Skype account so you can reach each other that way. If not, you could send your child with some stamps and …

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Win Custody in Your Divorce Case

Win Custody in Your Divorce Case

October 4, 2022

Are you a Houston parent that wants to win custody in your divorce case? Working with an experienced family law attorney can help you in your child custody battle. Our family law firm will work with you either through mediation to reach an agreement regarding your parenting plan or to help you gain full custody and child support in court. Learn more about the different types of custody and factors that go into determining who will win child custody below. Types of Custody Arrangements There’s no one-size-fits-all custody arrangement; the terms of your final custody plan are supposed to be tailored to meet the needs of your family. The final custody order should normally address both physical custody (which parent the child lives with) and legal custody (which parent has the right and obligation to make decisions about the child’s upbringing). Most custody orders divvy up custody in one of the following ways: sole legal custody and sole physical custody to one parent sole physical custody and joint (shared) legal custody joint physical custody and joint legal custody, or sole legal custody and joint physical custody (rare). When an order specifies that one parent has sole physical custody, the judge will typically create a visitation schedule to ensure the child has the opportunity to enjoy a meaningful relationship with the noncustodial parent. Who Decides Custody? As is the case with most family law issues, courts will give a lot of weight to any agreements that parents reach regarding child custody. If parents can work together to achieve a fair and proper custody arrangement, the judge will likely adopt it into a court order. Working together is the best opportunity for parents to control what happens to their families after a separation or divorce. If you’ve tried talking with your spouse …

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How Can I Strengthen My Case For Custody

How Can I Strengthen My Case For Custody

September 28, 2022

One of the most common questions divorcing parents ask is: How Can I Strengthen My Case For Custody? Child custody can be a very sensitive subject for families to take on. Not only are the emotions of both parents on the line, the welfare of any child involved is also. You may feel frustrated and unsure of how to go about proving that you are the better suited parent for custody. It is important that you navigate this situation delicately, involving your children as minimally as possible. Working with an experienced family law attorney can help you to make a strong case for why you are the parent that should be awarded custody. Attorney Dawn Renken is familiar with child custody cases in Texas and can provide your with the information and guidance you will need to make the most informed choices for your child. Understand the ‘Better Parent’ Standard A lot of parents go into a child custody hearing with the intention of seeking sole custody. For some parents, this is because they believe that the other parent is “unfit” to raise their child. Others would prefer to have sole custody for other reasons. However, any parent hoping to win child custody should realize that there is a higher burden of proof for the parent seeking sole custody. Factors that play a role in this decision: Courts don’t want to interfere in parent/child relationships: Most judges are reluctant to prevent either parent from having a relationship with their child because the implication is that both parents, together, are best able to care for a child. One parent must be established as a better parent: To award sole custody, the courts have to establish one parent as the ‘better parent,’ which can be difficult to do, particularly if both parents …

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Coronavirus Related Layoffs Trigger Child Support Modifications

Coronavirus Related Layoffs Trigger Child Support Modifications

April 1, 2020

The impact the Coronavirus has had on our lives is unprecedented. Beyond the actual illness itself, the social response we have taken in attempts to prevent further spreading of the virus has left many without work. In these trying times, we are doing the best we can to pick up the pieces and continue living our lives. There is much uncertainty as we tread along towards the future, discovering how to maintain our obligations and care for ourselves and others. If you have experienced a change in your work schedule or have been laid off, due to Coronavirus, you may be wondering how you will be able to pay your bills, including child support. At Renken Law Firm, we are here to help those facing Coronavirus related layoffs that trigger the need for child support modifications. The health and wellness of our clients is our top priority. We are offering all of our legal services through safe telecommunication in order to follow and respect all social distancing boundaries put in place by our government. Our services have been made convenient so that you are able to get the top legal services in Houston from the comfort of your home.Our team can help you sort through and negotiate the specifics of your child support obligations and work to find solutions for your current financial situation, without you needing to come into the office. If you are looking to make an amendment or modification to your current child support agreement, while also doing your part to stay home and limit your social contact, Renken Law Firm can help! Once regular social gatherings have resumed, online divorce legal services will still be available for those with busy lives looking to take care of their needs without changing their schedule. Contact us today to …

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Divorce can be an emotionally and financially taxing process, but mediation can offer a more amicable and cost-effective alternative to courtroom battles. In this blog post, we’ll explore the critical do’s and don’ts of divorce mediation. We’ll also introduce you to experienced divorce mediator and attorney, Dawn Renken, of The Renken Law Firm in Houston, who can help couples navigate this process and make thorough and informed choices when drafting a divorce agreement. Divorce is never easy, but divorce mediation can make the process smoother and more manageable. Unlike traditional divorce proceedings, which often involve lengthy courtroom battles, mediation allows couples to work together with a neutral third party to resolve their differences and create a mutually acceptable divorce agreement. When done right, mediation can save time, money, and emotional distress. However, divorce mediation isn’t a walk in the park. It requires open communication, patience, and a willingness to compromise. To help you navigate this process successfully, here are 10 things you should never say or do during divorce mediation: 1. Refusing to Communicate Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful mediation. Refusing to talk or listen can hinder progress and lead to a more protracted and contentious divorce. It’s essential to be open and honest about your concerns, needs, and preferences during mediation. Dawn Renken, an experienced divorce mediator, is skilled in facilitating constructive communication between divorcing couples. She can help create an environment where both parties feel heard and understood. 2. Letting Emotions Take Over Divorce is an emotionally charged process, but it’s crucial not to let your emotions dictate your actions during mediation. Outbursts of anger or resentment can escalate conflicts and hinder resolution. Instead, try to remain calm and composed. Dawn Renken specializes in guiding clients through the emotional challenges of divorce, helping them focus on their long-term interests rather than short-term emotions. 3. Failing to Prepare Preparation is key to a successful mediation. Failing to gather and organize your financial documents, legal papers, and other relevant information can lead to delays and misunderstandings. Dawn Renken can help you prepare for mediation by ensuring you have all the necessary documentation and information at your fingertips. 4. Being Inflexible Mediation involves compromise, and being too inflexible can hinder progress. While it’s crucial to protect your interests, it’s also essential to understand that some give and take will be necessary to reach an agreement. Dawn Renken has extensive experience in helping clients find middle ground and make compromises that are fair and reasonable. 5. Bringing Up the Past Dragging up past mistakes, hurts, or grievances during mediation is counterproductive. It can create tension and prevent a positive resolution. Dawn Renken can help keep the focus on the present and the future, guiding couples toward constructive discussions that lead to productive solutions. 6. Playing the Blame Game Blaming your spouse for the divorce or trying to make them feel guilty won’t help during mediation. In fact, it’s more likely to create animosity and impede the process. Dawn Renken can act as a neutral mediator, keeping discussions on track and preventing blame from becoming a roadblock to resolution. 7. Disregarding Your Children’s Well-Being If you have children, their well-being should be a top priority during divorce mediation. Failing to consider their needs, feelings, and interests can lead to contentious custody battles and long-term emotional repercussions. Dawn Renken is well-versed in helping divorcing parents create a custody and visitation plan that prioritizes their children’s needs. 8. Making Unrealistic Demands Mediation is about finding realistic and mutually beneficial solutions. Making extravagant or unrealistic demands can lead to an impasse. Dawn Renken can provide insight into what is legally and practically achievable, ensuring that both parties understand the boundaries and possibilities of their divorce agreement. 9. Hiding Assets Concealing assets during mediation is not only unethical but also illegal. It can result in severe legal consequences and damage your credibility in the eyes of the mediator and the court. Dawn Renken can help ensure full financial transparency during mediation, preventing disputes over hidden assets.

The Renken Law Firm has worked hard to earn a reputation for efficiently practicing diligent and focused legal services. During the course of our representation, you can expect expert legal advice in the areas of divorce, separation planning, custody disputes, child support cases, grandparents rights, prenuptial agreements, attorney general cases and enforcement actions. Prenuptial agreements, commonly referred to as prenups, are contractual agreements made between two individuals prior to their marriage. They establish the framework for how assets, debts, and other financial matters will be handled should the marriage end in divorce or due to the death of one spouse. Prenuptial agreements provide a level of financial security and peace of mind to both parties by outlining their rights and responsibilities. When considering a prenup, it’s essential to work with a knowledgeable Prenup Attorney in Houston, like the experts at The Renken Law Firm, to ensure that your agreement is comprehensive and tailored to your unique needs. The Importance of a Prenuptial Agreement Prenuptial agreements are not only for the wealthy or those anticipating divorce. They can be invaluable tools for protecting individual assets, managing financial expectations, and ensuring a fair resolution should the marriage end. Here’s a breakdown of what is typically included in a prenuptial agreement: 1. Property Division One of the primary purposes of a prenup is to specify how assets and debts will be divided in the event of a divorce. This includes real estate, personal property, bank accounts, and investments. The agreement can outline whether certain assets will remain separate property, and which will be considered marital property, subject to division. By clearly defining these terms, you can protect your financial interests and avoid potential disputes in the future. 2. Spousal Support Spousal support, also known as alimony, can be a contentious issue during divorce proceedings. A prenuptial agreement can specify the amount, duration, and conditions under which spousal support will be paid. This allows both parties to have a clear understanding of their financial responsibilities, reducing the risk of prolonged legal battles. 3. Division of Debts Debts incurred during a marriage can be a significant source of concern if the relationship ends. Your prenup can outline how debts will be divided, whether they are considered marital or separate, and who will be responsible for paying them. 4. Inheritance and Estate Planning A prenuptial agreement can address how inheritance and estate planning matters will be handled. It can specify whether certain assets are to be kept separate and secure the interests of children from previous relationships. 5. Business Interests If you own a business or have a stake in a company, a prenup can help protect your business interests. It can outline how the business will be managed and whether your spouse will have any ownership rights in the event of divorce. 6. Financial Responsibilities Your prenuptial agreement can include provisions detailing each spouse’s financial responsibilities during the marriage. This may cover how household expenses will be shared, savings and investment strategies, and other financial matters that will affect your day-to-day life.

Divorce is an emotionally charged, life-altering event. When a marriage reaches a point where it can no longer be sustained, the process of legally ending it can be intricate and emotionally draining. While Texas law provides for various divorce options, understanding the different types of divorce is crucial for making informed decisions. In this article, we will explore the various divorce options available in Texas, from uncontested to contested, mediation, and more. Additionally, we will highlight the invaluable role of an experienced divorce attorney like Dawn Renken from the Renken Law Firm in Houston, emphasizing how they can help make the process smoother and ensure you don’t overlook important details. 1. Uncontested Divorce An uncontested divorce is often the most straightforward option for couples who have reached an agreement on all significant aspects of their separation, such as child custody, property division, and alimony. This type of divorce is generally less time-consuming and costly than other alternatives, as it minimizes the need for court appearances and lengthy legal battles. An experienced divorce attorney like Dawn Renken can guide you through the process, ensuring all legal requirements are met. Their role is to make sure that the agreement is comprehensive and that no crucial details are overlooked, thus preventing future disputes or complications. 2. Contested Divorce Contrary to uncontested divorce, a contested divorce occurs when spouses cannot come to an agreement on one or more critical issues. These disputes often lead to court proceedings and can be lengthy and emotionally taxing. In a contested divorce, a skilled attorney becomes crucial in protecting your rights, ensuring a fair outcome, and representing your interests in court. Dawn Renken’s experience in contested divorces allows her to navigate the intricacies of Texas divorce law effectively. Her insight into the legal system can prove invaluable in resolving complex disputes and advocating for your rights. 3. Collaborative Divorce Collaborative divorce is an alternative to traditional courtroom battles. In this process, both parties work together with their attorneys to reach a mutually beneficial settlement. This approach can save time and money while preserving relationships and reducing emotional stress, especially when children are involved. An experienced attorney like Dawn Renken can help you through this process by providing legal advice and ensuring that all legal requirements are met. Their guidance can lead to a more amicable resolution, which is especially important when co-parenting in the future. 4. Mediated Divorce Mediation is another non-adversarial option for couples who wish to avoid the courtroom. In a mediated divorce, a neutral third party, often a certified mediator, helps couples negotiate and reach an agreement. This approach encourages open communication and collaboration while addressing concerns and needs of both parties. Having a divorce attorney like Dawn Renken on your side during mediation can be advantageous. Her legal expertise ensures that your rights are protected and that any agreements made align with Texas divorce laws. Additionally, her presence can provide guidance and reassurance during a potentially challenging process. 5. Default Divorce In some cases, one spouse may not participate in the divorce process or may be unreachable. In such instances, Texas law allows for a default divorce. This process typically moves forward with minimal involvement from the absent spouse, making it necessary to ensure all legal steps are correctly followed. An experienced attorney like Dawn Renken can help you navigate a default divorce to ensure that all legal requirements are met, minimizing the risk of complications down the road. Her guidance can expedite the process and provide you with the resolution you seek, even in the absence of cooperation from your spouse. 6. No-Fault Divorce Texas allows for “no-fault” divorces, which means that neither party has to prove wrongdoing or assign blame for the marriage’s dissolution. Instead, one or both parties can simply state that the marriage has become insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities. While a no-fault divorce may seem straightforward, an experienced attorney can help ensure that this process is executed correctly and that the necessary legal documents are filed. Dawn Renken’s expertise can prevent any issues that might arise from improperly handling the paperwork. 7. Fault Divorce Although Texas recognizes no-fault divorces, some situations may warrant pursuing a fault divorce. Grounds for fault divorce in Texas can include adultery, cruelty, abandonment, or a felony conviction. This type of divorce typically requires the gathering of evidence to support the allegations of fault. Dawn Renken’s experience as a divorce attorney can be invaluable in building a strong case for a fault divorce. Her knowledge of the legal requirements and procedures ensures that your claims are well-substantiated and your interests are protected. 8. Annulment An annulment is different from a divorce, as it legally declares a marriage void or null from the beginning. Grounds for annulment in Texas include bigamy, impotence, fraud, or underage marriage. An annulment can be a complex process, and having an experienced attorney is crucial to present a convincing case before the court. Dawn Renken’s experience and legal acumen can be instrumental in successfully pursuing an annulment in Texas. Her expertise in the intricacies of the legal system can guide you through the process and ensure your interests are protected.

What Is Divorce Mediation? For couples that have come to the decision together to divorce, mediation provides an alternative method than traditional courtroom divorces. Mediation involves a neutral third party: the mediator. The mediator works to help both spouses work through divorce issues and communicate while trying to make decisions that impact their futures. Divorce mediation has become increasingly more popular because it is private, affordable, and allows both parties to have more control over the final outcome of their divorce agreement. Divorce mediation is a great option for divorcing couples where both parties are willing to put their emotions aside and work together to amicably end the marriage. Family law attorney, Dawn Renken is a licensed mediator who can provide helpful legal advice throughout your divorce case. This includes resolving disputes, creating a child custody schedule, settling on child support payments, property divisions, and much more. Why Choose to Mediate Your Divorce? Although judges often order divorcing couples to participate in mediation before going to trial, you have the option of mediating on your own—either before you file for divorce or at any time after. Mediating your divorce has a lot of advantages over litigating it (fighting it out in court). ost. Mediation is much less expensive than a trial. Settling the case. Most mediations end in settlement of all of the issues in the divorce. Confidentiality. Mediation is confidential, with no public record of what goes on in your sessions. Freedom. Mediation allows you to arrive at a resolution based on your own ideas of what is fair in your situation, rather than having a solution imposed upon you based on rigid and impersonal legal principles. Advice still available. You can go to mediation and still choose to have a lawyer give you legal advice. Control. You and your spouse—not the court—control the process. Communication. The mediation process encourages communication between you and your spouse, helping you avoid future conflicts. Successful mediation makes the rest of your divorce easier: Because you’ve done all the hard work of hammering out the details in the mediation, you can file an “uncontested” divorce. Uncontested divorces are usually less expensive and faster than litigated divorces (divorces where the couple battles in court). With an uncontested divorce, you’ll save money on attorneys’ fees and the costs of going to trial. Also, many courts fast-track uncontested cases because everything has been worked out in advance, meaning that a judge will be able to finalize your divorce faster than if you’d gone to trial. There are many reasons that make divorce mediation attractive to couples but it is not for everyone. In order to have a successfully mediated divorce, both parties must be willing to work together and compromise in a civil exchange to come to an agreement. Reaching an amicable divorce can be difficult in relationships where spouses do not share similar goals or ideas about property division, child custody, or other important aspects of their divorce. Additionally, in situations where emotions are high and discussions are strained, mediation may not be the most efficient manner to reach a divorce agreement. There are other options such as collaborative divorce, arbitration, and of course litigation for couples that mediation does not work for. Contact us today to get the answers you are looking for about divorce in Houston, TX and surrounding areas. Experienced Family Law Attorney in Houston, TX Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Our team is dedicated to helping you and your family move forward without legal matters complicating your life. Contact our law office to explore your options for traditional marriage divorce and common law divorce, and find out how we can help you resolve any legal problems you are currently facing.

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