Often, once a divorce is initiated, a need for support arises for the custodial parent (the one with whom the child or children primarily reside). A common question that clients in this situation ask is “Can I get child support while my divorce is pending?” The answer is yes, and there are a few ways for child support to be ordered while a divorce is pending, through the use of temporary orders. Temporary orders can mandate that temporary child support should be awarded.
What are Temporary Orders?
Temporary Orders are an order issued by a judge, or agreed to by the parties, that takes effect for the duration that a family law case in pending. Often, temporary orders are negotiated, agreed, and signed voluntarily by the parties. Once the order is signed by the parties, it is filed to the court and signed by the judge. If the parties cannot agree on their own, some courts require that the parties attend mediation and attempt to come to an agreement in that way, before being allowed to schedule a temporary orders hearing in front of a judge.
What if we can’t agree?
If the parties are unable to come to an agreement over the terms of the temporary orders, a party may file a petition or motion for temporary orders and there must be a hearing in front of a judge. A temporary orders hearing can feel like a trial, as the hearing usually involves testimony and evidence. Witnesses may be called and cross-examined, and documents, photos, etc. can be introduced into evidence.
Once a court has entered the temporary orders. the parties must abide by them for the duration specified in the order. Usually it’s until the final order of the court is entered, but the court has discretion in setting a deadline.
How much will the court order them to pay?
Texas courts use uniform, state-wide guidelines to calculate child support payments. For child support purposes, the definition of “income” includes wages, salary, commissions, tips, overtime, and bonuses, all added up to determine gross income. Net income is then calculated by subtracting certain items from the parent’s gross income, including social security taxes, state and federal income tax, union dues and health insurance premiums for the children.
Once you have the net income, apply it to the guidelines based on the number of children that need support, as follows:
Number of Children Before the Court
Percentage of Net Resources
More than 40%
What happens if my spouse doesn’t pay?
A temporary order for support is as enforceable as a final order – whether it was signed as agreed, or ordered through hearing. Usually, court orders will be enforceable by contempt proceedings. If the party is found to be in contempt of the court order, the judge can issue a fine, a jail sentence, or both.
When a spouse fails to fulfill their child support obligations in Texas, it can have significant consequences. Texas takes child support obligations seriously, as they are meant to ensure the well-being and financial stability of the child. If your spouse doesn't pay child support as ordered, you have legal options to enforce the payment.
One course of action is to file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in Texas. The OAG can assist in enforcing child support orders and has various tools at their disposal. They can garnish wages, intercept tax refunds, place liens on property, and suspend licenses, such as driver's licenses or professional licenses, until the child support payments are made.
Additionally, you can seek the help of a family law attorney who can guide you through the process of enforcing child support. They can file a motion with the court to hold your spouse in contempt for non-payment, which may result in penalties such as fines, jail time, or other remedial actions. It is crucial to gather documentation of the missed payments and communicate with the appropriate legal authorities to ensure your child's best interests are protected.
Remember, it is essential to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to understand the specific legal options available in your case and take appropriate action to enforce child support payments.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “Child Custody E-Book”
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- Child Custody Basics 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
- Texas Child Support – Trust and Annuities
- Special Needs Children in Texas Child Support Cases
- How to get above guideline child support.
- Handling a child support case as the non custodial parent, Part Five
- Too Poor to Divorce in Texas?
- Modifying your divorce decree in Texas
- How long can you avoid being served divorce papers?
- How to handle child support as the non custodial parent, Part Three
- 5 Tips For Dealing With Your Ex After a Divorce