Protection for workers whose employers do not carry worker's compensation.
In 1989, the Texas legislature made sweeping changes to the Texas Worker's Compensation laws. The changes were intended to encourage employers to carry worker's compensation insurance to cover their workers who are injured on the job. Additionally, the changes were intended to protect workers whose employers did not carry worker's compensation by limiting the rights of those employers to defend lawsuits brought by the injured workers.
When the law went into effect, most Texas employers carried workers compensation insurance. However, in the last few years many employers have stopped carrying workers compensation insurance and have started Injured Employee Benefit Plans which are not workers compensation insurance under Texas law. Theses Benefit Plans have many names, but normally have a number of rules, limit the doctors you can see and pay only a portion of the employee's salary while the employee is off work due to the injury. The employers often tell the employee that it is their only option. Further, the doctors seeing the patients often sent the employee back to work, despite the presence of real injuries. Finally, the rules in these Benefit Plans are so restrictive, many employees are told they failed to meet the Plan rules and are told they have no benefits.
The truth is injured employees who work for employers without worker's compensation insurance are entitled to get the care they need from doctors they choose. While the care may not be covered by the Benefit Plan, if the injury was in anyway caused by the negligence of the employer, the equipment provided to the worker or an unsafe work environment, the employer is liable and the injured worker is entitled to recover the cost of health care, their full wages, and for pain and suffering they experienced because of the injury.
Many employees are afraid that contacting an attorney or pursuing their rights will result in termination. However, Texas forbids an employer for retaliating against an employee who contacts an attorney or otherwise pursues his or her rights to recover. Specifically, the law allows employees who are fired for pursuing their right to recover their lost wages and get their job back. Criss & Kraft LLP is actively involved in helping injured employees get the care they need and recover the damages to which they are entitled. The information above is an overview of these legal issues and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. If we can assist you or someone you know who was injured on the job, but is not covered by worker's compensation please contact Criss & Kraft LLP.
Dissolving a marriage is a complicated, emotional process. In almost every case, the primary issues to be resolved center around the division of property and caring for children.
Except in special circumstances where one person is at fault for the break-up of the marriage, divorce is granted on the "no-fault" ground of insupportability. This means a conflict of personalities has destroyed the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship. When a divorce is granted for insupportability, the marital (or community) property is separated by a "just and right division". Community property includes all property acquired during the marriage not obtained by gift, bequest, or inheritance. Of course there are many exceptions to these general rules.
When children are involved, Texas courts prefer to designate both parents as joint managing conservators with the same rights, duties, and obligations to the children. One parent is typically designated the "primary" conservator and has the exclusive right to determine where the child lives. Courts favor restricting the residence of the children to a geographical area which allows both parents the opportunity to be involved in their children's daily lives and activities.
Visitation of the children by the non-primary parent generally occurs under a standard possession order, which includes:
- the first, third, fifth weekends of each month
- every other holiday
- one month in the summer
The Texas Family Code allows parents awarded visitation to choose an expanded visitation schedule allowing for longer weekends, overnight visits during the second and fourth weeks, and approximately 45 days in the summer. Child support is also calculated and ordered as part of the divorce proceeding.
The issues arising during divorce are complex and require experienced legal counsel. The information above is an overview and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. Should you have specific questions about your specific circumstance, the attorneys at Criss & Kraft, LLP are ready to help.
Child support is a critical issue in any divorce or suit involving children under the age of 18. It provides financial assistance for the necessary expenses that come with raising a child. The Texas Family Code bases its guidelines for child support on all sources of income, not just primary income. This is known as net monthly resources, which is the gross monthly income of the parent paying child support minus:
- Standard employment withholding (FICA, Social Security, and Medicare)
- Medical insurance premiums for the children involved
- Union Dues
Other pre-tax deductions, such as 401k or healthcare savings account contributions, do not further reduce the payor's gross monthly resources when calculating child support.
Generally, Texas courts order the non-custodial parent to pay child support based on the following guidelines:
- 1 child 20% of net monthly resources
- 2 children 25% of net monthly resources
- 3 children 30% of net monthly resources
- 4 children 35% of net monthly resources
- 5+ children 40% of net monthly resources
Percentages are reduced when the non-custodial parent also pays support for another child. For example, the applicable percentage is reduced to 17.5 percent when one child is before the court and the payor has been ordered to support another child. Child support may be increased if the child is disabled.
In the event that the parent paying child support is unemployed, Texas courts presume the parent could work 40 hours a week making minimum wage and calculate support accordingly. Non-custodial parents who receive unemployment or disability benefits are also subject to the guidelines with individual child support obligations calculated based upon specific earnings.
Wage Withholding Orders are required with all child support agreements. These orders are sent to the employer of the parent paying child support and require the employer to deduct support directly from earnings prior to distributing the paycheck. The employer must forward all child support payments to the Office of the Attorney General's Disbursement Unit.
Child support continues until the child reaches the age of 18 and graduates from high school. There are no provisions in the Texas Family Code requiring child support payments through college. However, if a child is disabled, support may be ordered to continue beyond the age of 18.
As this is merely an overview of child support in Texas and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice, contact us to discuss your specific situation and for more information on Texas laws that apply to you.