Losing your job can be a disheartening experience for any of us. So much of our sense of self can be tied up in the work that we do. This is for a good reason. Not only is work something to provide us with income and assist us in providing for our families on a short-term and long-term basis, but it is also a place for us to contribute to our communities and perform acts that benefit the lives of others. In many ways, the income that you earned was enough to propel your family past a divorce or child custody case and into a new life.
Another reality for families after a divorce or child custody case, another reality for families is that child support is often a part of their lives. If you are the parent who is expected to pay child support to your co-parent, then you have a tremendous responsibility on your plate. Keep in mind that child support is less an obligation for you than it is a way for your child to ensure they have all the things they need in their daily lives. Child support is not intended to take care of your child’s every need, but it is intended to fill the gaps that may occur due to the loss of income.
You need to understand exactly what your responsibilities are already coming to paying child support. People often assume that they understand what their responsibilities are but misinterpret or misunderstand what the obligations are in terms of paying child support, how long after you paid and how much has to be paid. For that reason, I recommend that you review your child support orders, especially in the immediate aftermath of a family law case. This way, you will be sure to understand what is going on; it won’t have as many problems down the line when it comes to paying child support on time and in full.
You may be surprised to learn how frequently family law attorneys encounter people who do not understand court orders for child support. For example, you may have paid a different amount of child support at the beginning of your child custody or divorce case in temporary orders; then, you are ordered to do so on final orders. This could lead to mistakes being made regarding how much money is paid to the attorney general’s office.
On the other hand, your attorney or your spouse’s attorney may not have informed you of the significance of a wage withholding order and how your income will be withheld from your paycheck to page child support each month. All this benefits you in the long run as it prevents you from forgetting to you or failing to pay child support on formatting full. It could create a temporary problem in your budget if we did not account for this money exiting your paycheck before it comes into your hands. Finding yourself not to pay for your household items because child support has to be paid is a major concern.
The situation that we need to examine relates to paying child support even if you lose your job in the future. The degree to which many of us have seen our lives change over the past 18 months has been substantial. With that being said, we need to realize that of all the challenges that we have faced, many of us still face challenges in our daily lives to secure a predictable and sustained form of income for ourselves and our families. At its core, this is the most important information for families to keep in mind during this time. What would you do if you lost your income? What sort of plan would you have in mind to ensure that you have money set aside to pay your bills and meet your other obligations?
How does child support get paid after a divorce?
Child support does not have to be a complex topic. Although many people treat child support as something difficult to wrap your arms around, the truth is that it is not. Once you have calculated child support for your particular circumstances and I’ve had it included in your court orders as far as a schedule to be paid on, the big question tends to be how is the Child Support going to be paid? Is there going to be a plan in place, or will you have to resort to having child support paid directly to your Co-parent?
For starters, having child support paid directly to your Co-parent is not a good idea. Doing so protects neither you nor your Co-parent. First, it does not protect you given that you have no record of the money Having been paid to your Co-parent. This is important because you did not want to put yourself in a situation where your Co-parent tells you that you did not pay the child support when you did. At that point, you may not have even bothered to get a court order in the first place. The whole purpose of the court order is to ensure some protection against your Co-parent doing exactly that.
Secondly, your Co-parent shouldn’t rely upon direct child support payments because, in that case, you are not held accountable for the child support you have or have not paid. Both of you have come to rely upon the office of the attorney general to keep track of the payments for child support that were made over time. Not having that record of payment to keep both of you honest is difficult for you all to bear in mind. It is much easier to have an indelible record of payments made rather than relying upon one another for record-keeping.
A wage withholding order has been created for most families to allow for money to be withheld from each of their paychecks to pay for child support. That wage withholding would have been drafted by your spouse’s attorney at the end of the divorce and submitted to the judge for their approval and signature. From there, the wage withholding order will be sent to your employer, and your human resources department would follow the court’s order and see to it that the required amount of money is set aside each month to pay for child support. Doing it this way takes the situation out of your Co parent’s hands and your own.
From there, once the money is withheld out of your paycheck, it would be sent through the office of the attorney general. The office said the attorney general child support division is handling matters related to child support for Texas families. On their website, they would keep an accurate record of the amount of child support you were supposed to have paid and the amount of child support paid. From there, both you and your Co-parent can keep track of the amount of child support paid by The end of each month.
Although this method of payment attempts to be more streamlined, it goes without saying that it is still your responsibility to ensure that the proper amounts of child support have been paid on time and in full. It is not an excuse 2 tell a judge that you didn’t pay child support simply because there was a mistake or issue with the payments being made through your employer or the attorney general’s office. If he perceived that there is something wrong in the process, you should contact your Co-parent and the attorney general’s office.
I want to discuss just how important it is for you to have an open and honest relationship with your Co-parent when discussing matters like child support. Although I realize that it is not always easy to discuss topics like this, it is essential. Getting to the point where you can discuss subjects like this with your Co-parent isn’t easy, but I find that being proactive about having conversations like this can save you a lot of trouble both now and in the future.
Be willing to discuss important matters directly with your Co-parent.
Title two of today’s blog post is related to whether or not you have to pay child support if you lose your income. No matter what ends up happening regarding your income, the reality of the situation is you need to be proactive when it comes to communication with your Co-parent if you plan on having any co-parenting relationship and success in raising your children together. One of the most important aspects of ensuring compliance with child support orders is communicating well with your Co-parent.
Communication with a Co-parent does not have to mean that you and your co-parent are best friends or are even on good terms together. But communication with a Co-parent does mean that you all will need to be committed to one another as far as wanting to commit to one another as far as near-daily life is concerned. If issues arise, you will need to communicate with another person about those issues. This is true, especially regarding important matters like child support. As I’m sure you could imagine, your Co-parent depends upon your child’s support in creating a budget each month and planning out expenditures related to your child. Do not lose sight of the fact that these payments have child support are made to benefit your child and not your Co-parent.
Communicating subjects like this can do with your Co-parent builds trust between the two of you. People who trust one another are less likely to jump to conclusions and become upset with the other person is a problem regarding money. You do not want two ends up doing is never communicating with your Co-parent about money only to find that now, at some point, the issue comes up where you cannot pay child support. Still, there is no level of trust with that person as far as discussing the need to adjust your payment schedule due to a loss in income, for example.
Rather, if you all engage in ongoing discussions with one another, then you can position yourselves well as far as making sure each of you understands where the other is coming from and trust that person is doing their best to be upfront and honest with one another.
Do you have to pay child support even if you lose your job?
Let’s finish out today’s blog posts by discussing whether or not you have to pay child support if you lose your job. Losing your job means that you have lost your income. Losing income also means that you will be unable to meet your obligations as far as bills and other things of this nature. Certainly, child support falls into a category like this. For that reason, you need to have a plan in mind when it comes to paying child support.
Most of the time, you will need to continue to pay child support even if you lose your job and thus lose your income. I realize that this may seem harsh, but the reality is that there is likely nothing in your final decree of divorce or final child custody orders that allows you to defer child support payments in the event you lose your job. There are multiple reasons for this; foremost among them is that your child needs not to pause simply because you lose your income. One of the things you can do while working is to set aside some money to pay for child support and other expenses—an emergency fund.
There’s some urgency fun can be paid for initially by liquidating an asset that you get in your divorce or even by working a second job if you have more time on your hands after the divorce is over. I realize that this does not sound like a lot of fun; it may not even sound fair to you, but the reality is that your responsibility to pay support will not come to an end simply because you lost your job. Another aspect of this discussion is that you should remain in conversation with your Co-parent throughout this period, so you do not catch them by surprise when you fail to make a child support payment on the first of the following month.
If you do lose your job, then there are two phone calls that I would make immediately. The first would be to call your co-parent to explain the circumstances. I’m not sure that anyone at this stage in the game is losing employment because of the pandemic, but certainly, I would think that your Co-parent would understand if you lost your job for a reason like that beyond your control. Staying in communication with them will allow you to inform them of what will happen before it becomes a complete shock after a child support payment is missed.
Next, I would contact the office of the attorney general if you lose your income. In the small chance that you are out of work for an extended period, you could even put yourself in a position where the filing of a modification of child support would be warranted. This means that you could work with the attorney general’s office to file a motion to modify or child support orders downward if your income takes a permanent decrease over a long period. Again, not catching this state agency by surprise with the amount of child support that you do or do not have to pay is crucial.
Otherwise, you can file your motion to modify child support if the new job you land pays you significantly less money. Doing so does not require that you hire an attorney or even appear in court. Usually, your motion would be addressed by a child support office employee who would be a training general in a setting at one of their index offices or even over the phone. If you and your co-parent can agree to a modified amount of child support, you can reduce the amount you have to pay and avoid going to court altogether.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
Parents can sometimes agree that paying no child support is needed. However, there are reasons why child support is ordered. For example, the State of Texas wants to hold parents accountable for supporting their children, and a parent may not be doing enough of their part if no child support is ordered.
Factor’s a judge might consider when the parents argue no support is needed is comparing the parties’ incomes. If the payment is similar, both parents can equally afford all the child’s expenses and split those costs.
If both parents have 100% faith that the other parent will do their necessary part to support the child, a judge may consider no support being ordered. However, some factors and problems can result from this arrangement that most people will not believe. Understanding these can help gain more insight into what understanding is suitable for you and your children.
Best Interest of the Child
First, parents in a child support case will have to remember that all orders regarding their children will be made with their child’s best interest in mind. This means that even if parents themselves agree to pay no child support, a judge may think otherwise and order it anyways. This is because many factors are considered when ordering child support. For example, the parent’s financial situation, like one’s ability to make payments and if the parent receiving the support need it; the number of expenses like medical, health, etc. of the child.
Texas Child Support Guidelines
If parents pay child support, determining the child support guidelines will use the amount of child support paid. This guideline will give you a good prediction of what you can expect to pay, and most states have variations of how much child support will be paid.
These amounts are determined by how many children are subject to the child support lawsuit at hand. Being “subject to the suit” means that the orders they are hoping to put in place will be with these children. Inlay terms, this means the actual children for whom the parent will be paying child support. For example, there are some instances where one parent may have three children, but only two are eligible for child support because one child has reached the age of 18. At the age of 18, or until that child finishes high school, child support stops.
Child support amounts may also be ordered in consideration if the parent has other children from another parent, not subject to the suit, that they are responsible for paying child support for. This means a parent may have children from different parents but still must pay child support to both of those other parents, and a judge will consider that when ordering an amount.
In most, the standard guidelines will be applied when considering a child support amount. They are determined by using a percentage (this percentage depends on how many children you will be paying support for) to the parent’s monthly net income. The monthly net income is the parent’s takeaway pay after all deductions have been made. Conclusions can be from federal taxes, social security taxes, Medicare, insurance premiums, etc.
The breakdown for what percentage of your net monthly income is as follows:
Number of Children
40% (at the least) of your net monthly income will be calculated for 4+ children. Now again, these percentages are only the “guidelines” for how much child support the State of Texas believes you should be paying for child support. There are instances where child support may be ordered at either above or below guideline amounts. The above and below guidelines for child support will not be discussed in this blog; however, they will be addressed in a subsequent blog pertaining specifically to these matters.
Beginning the Child Support Process
Beginning the child support process does not require that a private attorney be hired. Parents can go directly to the Attorney GGeneral’sOffice and apply for their services. However, the state of Texas and its attorneys will not represent either parent in the case because they represent the state only. This also means that parents will not have the right to select what enforcement actions are taken against them because the Office of The Attorney General will provide all the appropriate services. After all, their mission is to do what is in the best interest of the children. When referring to enforcements, this means that the attorney general’soffice can act on their own to “enforce” “the child support order they provided for the parents if it is not being followed.
If you have TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and in some instances, Medicaid, the Attorney GGeneral’sOffice will automatically provide their child support services for you once your public assistance is certified.
All other parents who are not a part of these programs above must apply for child support services independently. Surprisingly, there is no fee for applications, and most services are free as well. Custodial parents or parents who receive child support who have never received TANF will only have to pay an annual fee of $25 each year if they receive at least $500 in child support. However, if you have more than one child support case, you will pay the annual fee on each topic.
This process seems reasonably quick. However, things may not always be that simple. The high volume of applications the Child Support Division of the Attorney GGeneral’sOffice receives from parents is exceptionally high. So much so that there is never a guaranteed date that child support payments will begin. Many cases will require a full range of services to be done, like finding an absent parent, establishing paternity, establishing an order, and enforcing it as well. It may take months, even years, for an order to be installed and much longer if the other parent is not paying, as they will have to proceed with enforcement.
Because of this, most parents will go the route of hiring a private family law attorney to assist them with their child support matters. Here the process is much different and can help you reach your goal of establishing child support quickly than going directly through the Attorney GGeneral’soffice.
How is Child Support Paid?
Most child support payments will be handled through the Attorney General of Texas, more specifically, the Texas State Disbursement Unit. The difference between the two is that the Attorney GGeneral’sOffice is more of a record-holder. They will be keeping track of all payments that have been made for child support and those disbursements. The Texas State Disbursement Unit can best be compared as the bank for the Attorney GGeneral’sOffice. The SDU (state disbursement unit) handles all payments and disbursements for fees.
So how does the SDU get payments? Generally, most people will have an Income Withholding Order in place. This means that your employer will be put on notice to set aside your required child support payments from the employee checks and go to the SDU. However, some people will pay directly to the SDU, and one can use a wide variety of options. For example, there are pay by mail, pay by phone, money orders, etc. For more details about how one can make their child support payments, please visit the Attorney’s GGeneral’swebsite: https://www2.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/payment-options-and-types.
Informal Child Support
While most people will use the state resources to pay child support like the SDU, parents will often agree to pay child support informally or directly to the other party. The only downfall with this is that the SDU and Attorney General are there to help record all payments, which cannot be done when child support is paid informally. This can become a problem if one parent claims they are not receiving child support payments, when in fact, they were. Avoiding problems and limiting contact help ensure that child support payments are made on time and kept a record of.
What If Parents CCan’tAgree?
If parents cannot agree to pay any child support or pay a certain amount of child support, then the fallback for child support will always be calculated using the state guidelines. Once again, child support is considered in the child’s best interest because it pays for their necessities (shelter, food, clothing) and can even be budgeted to support any additional expenses like education or extracurriculars.
In summary, having a child support order enforces accountability on the parent ordered to pay. It will ensure that you are receiving the support your child requires. While there may be rare cases where child support is not requested, most courts will shy away from this method because they don believe it is in the child’s best interest. Understanding the protections being on a child support offers will maybe help clarify what route you want to take when ensuring your child has the available resources.
If you have remaining questions about child support and would like to meet with a qualified attorney to discuss your options, please call our office to set up a FREE 30-minute consultation with our law office. I appreciate your attention to this blog.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family circumstances could be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
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- How to properly calculate child support in Texas
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- Child Support in Texas: What is the most you will have to pay and what are the exceptions to that rule?
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