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How to handle child support as a non custodial parent

A benefit of being one of the attorneys working at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC is that I have the opportunity to meet with many in our community to talk to them about their problems and to see if our office can help the potential client and their families.

What I end up doing in attempting to teach a person something about the law regarding families in Texas, is that I learn as much as I teach. I learn how people struggle with common issues regarding their children, their money, and their lives. I also learn that most people want to do what’s right but for whatever reason- lack of knowledge, lack of financial wherewithal, or lack of motivation- he or she is facing a problem that a lawyer’s assistance is needed.

You may be able to count yourself among that big group of your neighbors who has the best of desires but that life has not always dealt a friendly hand. There is nothing wrong with that. Most of us have had to overcome some sort of obstacle or hardship in our lives. With that said, however, taking advantage of an opportunity to learn about an issue that has an impact on your life is crucial to progressing towards becoming the person that you want to be.

The area of child support is one of those areas where the issues I discussed above all come together to create bad situations a lot of time. If you are a parent and your child does not primarily reside with you then it is likely that either in a divorce or child custody case you will be asked and eventually ordered by a court to pay child support. Specifically for parents who are not married to their child’s other parent, you may have questions that you need to be answered on this subject.

The purpose of today’s blog from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC is to talk to you as a noncustodial parent of your child about establishing paternity in a child support case and then how to set up child support for yourself. All of this process is done through the Office of the Attorney General.

It can be unnerving to receive a letter or phone call from the Attorney General that you do not expect. I hope that this blog and the ones to follow will put you a bit more at ease on this subject.

The role of the Office of the Attorney General in a Child Support case

Many people (custodial parents especially) assume that the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) represents them in a child support case.

This is not true. The OAG represents the State of Texas and not any parent in the case. Keep that in mind as we discuss additional issues surrounding child support cases in Texas.

Defining a noncustodial parent

I’ve used the term “noncustodial parent” a few times today already so we ought to define the term before we get much further into the blog post. If you are the parent of a child and you do not have primary custody of the child you are by definition the non-custodial parent.

This does not mean that you do not have any rights to your child, however. Without a doubt, you are one of the two most important people in your child’s life (along with the custodial parent). The State of Texas believes this as well.

The custodial parent of your child has the right to determine the primary residence of your child. This means that the other parent can decide with whom your child primarily resides. This is one of the few rights where the other parent has a superior right to your child when compared to you.

On the other hand, you have what is known as visitation rights to your child. This speaks to the public policy in our state that both parents of a child have a right and obligation to build a relationship with their child based on love and trust. This right entails you being able to know where your child is living and be able to spend time with your child when possible.

Do fathers have to be a noncustodial parent?

An outdated and stereotypical view of parenting leads many to believe that only fathers can be noncustodial parents of a child. This resigns men to a fate of paying child support until the child turns 18 and never having an opportunity to have the child reside with him in his residence.

This is no longer the complete truth if it truly ever was. The vast majority of noncustodial parents are fathers but more mothers are acting in that role today than in decades past. The information that we will be discussing today is equally applicable (for the most part) to fathers and mothers.

Essential information to be aware of regarding paternity and child support

  1. Many times in a child support case you will receive documentation from a court notifying you of a future court date regarding the establishment of child support. If you have never been to court or even seen a legal document before then this may come as a shock to you at first.

Receiving a court summons does not mean that you did anything wrong or that you are going to face a tough time in front of a nasty judge. It does, however, mean that you ought to go to the court date as stated in your notice of hearing.

This is not one of those situations in life where the powers that be will wait for you to appear before making decisions. Quite the contrary, if you were properly notified of a court date the OAG and the other parent are perfectly capable of making decisions regarding subjects important to your life without your ever being able to have any input.

For instance, if paternity has not been legally established for a child that is presumed to be yours, you will want to verify that the child is your biological offspring.

This can be done with genetic testing if you make yourself available to attend a hearing and be ordered to submit a genetic sample. If you fail to attend court you can be named the legal father and be ordered to pay child support on motion of the court without any genetic testing having been ordered.

  1. An Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) is a means by which you can formally acknowledge that you are the father of a child. The AOP is a legal document that can be filed with the State. You or the other parent can petition the court to name you as the legal parent of the child as well.

Keep in mind that just because your name appears on your child’s birth certificate this does not legally make you the father of the child. You will either need to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity soon after the birth of your child or file a petition to have Paternity established through the courts.

More essential tidbits of knowledge to be posted tomorrow

Please come back to join us tomorrow as we will walk through additional points that you should know as a non-custodial parent of a child as you head into a child support proceeding.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about this subject or any other in family law please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to discuss your questions and to provide information about the help that we can provide you and your family with as potential clients of our office.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Defining a material and substantial change in a child support modification case
  2. How to properly calculate child support in Texas
  3. Is Overtime Pay or Bonus Pay Considered for Texas Child Support?
  4. Child Support in Texas: What is the most you will have to pay and what are the exceptions to that rule?
  5. The Dirty Trick of Quitting Your Job to Avoid Child Support During a Texas Divorce
  6. Can I get child support while my Texas divorce is pending?
  7. Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
  8. Can I Sue My Ex for Retroactive or Back Child Support in Texas?
  9. Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
  10. Texas Child Support Appeals
  11. In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
  12. Why Ignoring Child Support Obligations is a Bad Idea in Texas
  13. Can I get child support and custody of my kids in Texas if we were never married?

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