If you are a parent who has been through the
family law courts in Texas and has been ordered to pay
child support then you likely have two feelings about the support (at least two feelings,
that is). First of all, you are glad to be able to help ensure that your
child will never “go without.” Food, shelter, clothing etc.
are the bare necessities of life and by you paying whatever it is that
you pay per month to your child’s other parent who are helping to
make sure that none of these are ever lacking in your child’s life.
On the other hand, you’re not a huge fan of paying the child support
because the money goes directly to your child’s other parent with
whom you do not have a great relationship. How can you trust where this
money is being spent? Where does it actually go?
I’ve had more than one client in the past ask me these type of questions.
I’ve even had people ask me if there is any way for us to work into
final orders some language that requires their ex-spouse to prove that
the money is being spent on their child. In theory this is reasonable,
but in practice it would be nearly impossible to be able to verify these
things. I know this is not a satisfying answer to give but it is the truth.
So what’s the next best thing? Can you be sure of what your child
support goes towards every month when it is taken out of your paycheck
and sent magically to your ex-spouse? Maybe not, but in today’s
blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC we can at least discuss with
you what child support covers and what it does not.
Frustrating requests for money; Aren’t you already paying for that?
Suppose that you have recently come out of a
divorce and agreed to pay 20% of your net monthly income for your elementary aged
daughter in child support. Not a problem, you thought. You would pay more.
In fact- between the official child support, the money you spend on her
during your periods of possession and the little “extras”
that you pay towards invariably each month you figure you’re paying
well beyond your “fair share.” You heard your ex wife’s
attorney use that phrase a lot in hearings and in messages relayed from
her to your attorney- “fair share.” So the way you see it,
you’re doing quite a bit to support your little girl.
Well, that’s what you thought, at least. One day you come home from
work and check your personal emails and see that your ex-wife has sent
you a message. It seems that your daughter has landed a spot today on
a club soccer team that travels all across the great state of Texas. With
that travel comes hotel accommodations, new uniforms, spending money and
other costs that are inherent in such pursuits. You’ve always supported
your daughter playing soccer- both financially and otherwise.
The kicker (no pun intended) of the email comes at the very end, where
your ex-wife asks you to pay an additional $300 per month to her (of course)
to help foot the bill for the costs of club soccer. You’re now in
the unenviable position of either paying this money or not paying it and
breaking your child’s heart. Before you put fingers to keyboard
to form a response you begin to wonder just what your child support goes
to support, anyways. Your daughter goes to her grandparents’ house
after school so there are no costs of daycare. She’s healthy as
a horse and only sees the doctor for a yearly check-up. So why should
you pay any more money in what is essentially an extension of child support?
Doesn’t what you already pay more than cover those sort of costs?
What child support does not cover
Child support in Texas does not cover the costs of uninsured medical expenses,
educational expenses and extracurricular activities. As I mentioned at
the outset of this blog post, the necessities of life are covered by child
support. Food, clothing and shelter are what the child support goes towards.
So, as it turns out the money you send each month in child support does
not go towards things like club soccer expenses. The general theory of
child support isn’t what you’re necessarily thinking, either.
Child support is essentially paid in order to allow you to pool your money
and your ex-spouse’s money as a means to care for your child. Child
support is intended to equalize the burden of financially raising a child
given that you are in possession of your child basically 45% of any given
month while your ex-spouse has her the remaining portion.
Future costs of parenting a child are an unknown
The tricky part of calculating child support is that every child is created
differently. Their needs, their wants, etc. are all unknown to the State
of Texas. In creating the guideline percentages for child support the
State of Texas acknowledges that these are a guide for what it takes to
raise a child in Texas, all things being equal. What you’re learning
through the above experience is that this estimate does not include club
What you can do is keep an eye on what your child needs from you during
your periods of possession. For example, if your child is needing new
clothes, toiletries and other essentials every weekend that she sees you
then that is a problem. While you are happy to pay for these items, your
child support is tailored to take care of them. If you believe that you
paying for things like this is getting out of hand it is smart to speak
to your ex-wife about it.
So where does this leave you? It is up to you to determine if you are willing
to spend this money on your child. Unless, of course, it isn’t
Read through your Divorce Decree in order to be certain of what you do
and do not have to pay
Some parents will negotiate into their divorce decree provisions that require
ex-spouses to assist in paying certain bills or expenses for their children.
In the situation that we have been discussing in today’s blog post
you should make certain that you are not on the hook to pay for extracurricular
expenses. Most divorce decrees do not contain orders like this but you
need to make absolutely sure. If you are wrong and do not pay the money
as requested you could find yourself in a courtroom answering an Enforcement lawsuit.
In the event that you are not forced by a court order to pay this money,
you just need to make a decision for yourself whether or not you are willing/able
to pay for whatever expense is being asked of you. When you were married
it was a decision that you and your spouse would make together. As a single
person it is your call as to whether or not you will be financially supporting
If nothing else you can attempt to negotiate the amount with your ex-spouse
to determine if you can fulfill another responsibility if you are not
able to pay the additional sum of money. Maybe you can provide transportation
to away games that are played in neighboring towns? Be willing to discuss
the issue and be as receptive as you can towards offers to settle the subject.
Question on child support and divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you have any questions about child support please
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC today. We offer free of charge consultations with our licensed family
law attorneys six days a week. Our attorneys and staff take a great deal
of pride in representing clients from our community and helping them to
achieve their goals. From Baytown to Galveston and on up to The Woodlands
our office represents and advocates for people of all sorts who have diverse
interests and goals. Thank you for your time and interest in today’s
blog post topic.