In yesterday’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we introduced our topic of child support cases from the noncustodial parent’s perspective. You are the non-custodial parent if your child does not primarily reside with you and instead, you have visitation rights. The noncustodial parent is typically the one who is responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent for support of the child.
Today’s blog post will continue on with this subject by discussing additional tips on how to proceed with a child support case if you receive a summons or notice of hearing from a child support court.
Know what you are signing before putting pen to paper
If you are asked to appear in child support court it is possible that you will never even talk to a judge, but rather an attorney for the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). This OAG lawyer will not be rude most likely but he or she will probably be a little “pushy” towards you agreeing to certain things in order to move your case along. Before agreeing to anything I suggest you read through any prospective order.
Many times the OAG’s lawyer is attempting to get you to agree to a certain level of child support and then the order will also take into consideration your rights and duties for raising your child as well as visitation, possession and access orders as well. Make no mistake that if you agree to these orders without seriously considering their consequences they will have just as much legal effect as an order that you had read thoroughly. Read through what you are being asked to sign and if something doesn’t make sense or if something isn’t agreeable to you contact an attorney.
It isn’t the end of the world to get signed up for child support
Many parents act as if their lives, their freedom, and their finances will never recover from being put on child support. After all- you may have been diligently paying the other parent some amount of money every month on a consistent basis. Isn’t this enough?
The benefit to having child support confirmed and ordered by a judge is that now the other parent has no right to try and ask you for more money each month or to withhold possession of your child if you are not able to pay your support as agreed. The child support amount is set in stone (at least until one of you attempts to modify the order) which provides you with peace of mind that you know exactly what needs to be paid each month in order to support your child. Also, the other parent cannot (by law) withhold your child from you simply if you do not pay your child support. He or she can take you back to court to enforce your order, but cannot punish you by withholding your child.
Need to establish paternity? Open up a child support case through the OAG
Simply put you may not have had an opportunity to formally establish paternity when your child was born. Worse yet, there may be another man who is claiming to be the father of your child. When paternity is in question a DNA test will need to be taken to remove any doubt as to who the father of your child is. These tests cost a decent amount of money but the family law court will typically pay for genetic testing in conjunction with a child support case.
Bring with you paystubs, tax returns and other financial documents to the court
One thing that I will always counsel clients about is making sure that your child support obligation is set to a realistic number based on your income. The worst thing that can happen is that the judge is left to take an educated guess as to what you make based on limited documentary evidence and testimony from the other parent. It’s not that you don’t want to support your child as much as possible, it’s just that if the child support obligation is beyond your means you will be put in a position where making your payment each month puts you in a financial bind.
The smart move is to bring with you to court any and all documentation that you believe to be important to show your true income. Pay-stubs, tax returns, other court orders showing what you pay to support children, not before this court and any other documents that can help confirm your income are extremely helpful. Again, it is not the end of the world to have to pay child support. It can be a burden to pay support when that obligation is beyond your means, however.
A partial payment is better than nothing
If you do get into a situation where you lose your job or get re-assigned at work only to find out that you are going to earn less money, you may not be able to make your child support payments in full until you can find other sources of income or a new job altogether. It is better to make a partial payment than to simply not make one at all.
A partial payment of child support shows the OAG that you are making an effort to meet your obligation and will not give a significant reason for them to file an enforcement case against you for the failure to pay support. Keep in mind that with interest your arrearage will continue to grow until you can pay large chunks of money towards your shortage.
If you do find yourself in a bad position from a financial perspective you should contact the OAG and speak to them about this. If it gets to the point where there is a significant difference between what you have been ordered to pay and what you ought to pay then you may need to file a modification case in order to change your monthly child support obligation.
Contact the OAG if your child begins to reside with you for any period of time
It happens with regularity that the noncustodial parent finds him or herself in a position where their child starts to live with him or her. If you find yourself in a position where your child is starting to live with you and it appears that this will become a permanent situation you should contact the OAG’s office.
You should not have to pay child support towards a child that is residing with you primarily. Having your title changed to the custodial parent from non-custodial parent means that you will at least be credited for the period of time that your child resides with you primarily. At most, it could mean that your child support obligation is terminated. This does not mean that you can stop paying child support while the OAG sorts out the situation.
Continue to pay as normal until you receive something in writing from the OAG telling you that you no longer have to or until you go to court to have the situation sorted out before a judge.
The Basics of Child Support cases- Tomorrow’s blog topic
Come back tomorrow to read more about child support cases. Specifically, we will discuss the subject of how to initiate a case and proceed once a child support case has been started.
Questions or concerns about family law in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. We offer free of charge consultations with a licensed family law attorney in our office. We can answer questions and help you to problem solve your situation. Our office represents clients across southeast Texas and we would be honored to speak to you about doing the same for you and your family.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Defining a material and substantial change in a child support modification case
- How to properly calculate child support in Texas
- Is Overtime Pay or Bonus Pay Considered for Texas Child Support?
- Child Support in Texas: What is the most you will have to pay and what are the exceptions to that rule?
- The Dirty Trick of Quitting Your Job to Avoid Child Support During a Texas Divorce
- Can I get child support while my Texas divorce is pending?
- Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
- Can I Sue My Ex for Retroactive or Back Child Support in Texas?
- Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
- Texas Child Support Appeals
- In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
- Why Ignoring Child Support Obligations is a Bad Idea in Texas
- Can I get child support and custody of my kids in Texas if we were never married?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Child Support Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child support, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX child support lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our child support lawyers in HoustonTX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles child support cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.