One of the most helpless feelings in the world, at least when it comes to a Texas child support or divorce case, is that of having the right to receive child support from your Co-parent but then wondering each month if that money is ever going to come. On the one hand, you have a court-approved child support order which mandates that a certain percentage of your Co parent’s income must be paid for child support each month. On the other hand, you have doubts and concerns about whether your Co-parent will live up to their end of the deal. After all, you have a relationship with that person that tells you they may not be the most reliable person in the world.
Not only is this a frustrating position for you to find yourself in, but it can be a downright scary position depending upon the extent to which you rely upon your parent’s child support payment to pay your bills each month. It is one thing for those child support payments to be added onto an already substantial income that you earned. However, if you are in a position where you are going back to school or trying to find work after a divorce or child custody case, then you may rely upon that child support is more than just supplemental income. You may need that income to make sure, but you can make your 4 walls each month.
How, then, can you best ensure that you can make sure that your Co-parent pays you the correct amount of child support on time each month? This is a tough question to ask and one that family law attorneys struggle with. The fact is that there are no guarantees in the world of Texas family law. You and your attorney can negotiate hard and well for certain protections and benefits to be provided to you and your family after the divorce or child custody case, but to have those protections and benefits followed through with and honored by your Co-parent can be another matter entirely.
I am trying to say that there is always risk involved regarding whether she’s related to your child custody or divorce order. We have all become accustomed to assessing risk throughout our lives, especially in recent months during this pandemic. I think it is fair to say that all of us, to 1 degree or another, have shifted what sort of risk we are willing to tolerate to live our lives. The same is true for you and everyone else but goes through with a child custody or divorce case.
While it is impossible to eliminate all risks in life or child custody or divorce situations, I can tell you that there are ways to minimize risk for you in the future when it comes to concerns over child support payments being made correctly. In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I will share my thoughts on ensuring best that the child support you are supposed to receive each month is paid to you on time and in full. Different people find themselves in different situations. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to speak to one of our experienced family law attorneys about your particular circumstances and how best one of our attorneys can help you and your family moving forward.
Think long term instead of short term when negotiating on child support
The irony of negotiating on child support is that it can be a relatively simple thing to approach. The Texas family code contains child support guidelines for calculating child support. By simply terminating your parent’s net monthly income and then multiplying that by a percentage based on how many children are before the court, you can arrive at a fairly straightforward number when it comes to having child support paid. However, that method of calculating child support works best when no extenuating circumstances are in play. If additional factors are relevant to your case, these basic guidelines may not work all that well.
This is where the complexities of child support come to rear their ugly heads. The more complex your circumstances are with your family and children, the odds are the more complex your negotiations will be on important subjects like child support. Almost everything about child support can be broken down into two categories related to your child’s needs. What is in the best interest of your child? When it comes to the negotiation and setting of several for child support purposes, you need to ask yourself.
You need to figure out what your child needs in their daily life and how child support figures into that process. For example, if your child has ongoing medical needs that require consistent and predictable treatment, then this should present you with an opportunity to present these factors to your spouse or parent in mediation for you to arrive at a suitable number for child support. For example, if you know that your child requires monthly trips to a specialist for behavioral or other types of therapy which are not covered by your medical insurance, then you should probably negotiate with this in mind during your case.
B as specific as you can when it comes to presenting these costs to your Co-parent. Much of the time, they will be aware of those costs, having been involved in the process of selecting a doctor or therapist for your child and actually taking your child to those appointments. In that case, you may not have to push too hard to have these amounts added to the Child Support that is paid. On the other hand, sometimes you have to overwhelm your Co-parent with information evidence of the need to increase child support based upon your child’s needs.
Do not be satisfied with a “good enough” amount of child support. Many people going through divorce or child custody cases will become fatigued at even the idea of negotiating on something as emotional as child support. For that reason, they will settle for an amount of child support that will allow their case to end but will not be good for themselves or their child and in the long run. Do not allow yourself to do this.
It would help if you came into mediation with detailed spreadsheets, doctors’ bills, and projections regarding the proven needs of your child for as long as they will require care. Whatever the extenuating circumstances, it need not be something related to their physical or mental health; you need to come prepared to mediation with evidence to back up your assertions about what needs to be paid. The more evidence you have, the harder you push for it, the better off you will be. Not being prepared gives the impression that you don’t think the subject is an important period. Do not expect your Co-parent to agree to every cost and increase you proposed with child support. Think long-term and be intentional about how you present your case to your Co-parent in this regard.
Make sure your child support orders are written.
Here is the thing: in the future, if your co-parent doesn’t pay the child support you are entitled to, nobody is going to care how hard you negotiated, or you skilled your attorney was at getting you what you need. Unless your final orders on child support are written with little to no way for the orders to be misconstrued or misunderstood, then you are setting yourself up for a problem. The whole purpose of child support orders is to ensure that your co-parent pays you the child support you are due. Anything less than that is not good enough.
That is the reality you face as you start to negotiate child support for your family law case. You can implement all the pieces of information that we have shared in today’s blog post perfectly, and it won’t matter one bit unless your final orders are well written, clear, and easily followed. You need to ensure that your child’s support orders are so crystal clear that your co-parent cannot possibly argue that they were unaware of what their responsibilities were under those orders. The key question that you need to be asking yourself is: how can you best ensure that this happens?
The first thing that I would do is hire an experienced family law attorney to represent you in your divorce. Having an attorney represent you in your divorce or child custody case is optional. A family court judge will not throw your case out if you are not represented. However, I always think it is a good idea to have an attorney represent your interests and guide you in your case. The attorney does not make decisions for you- you do. The attorney does not tell you what to think. The attorney will help you by sharing information and perspective with you that you do not possess. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t capable of thinking on your own. Quite the opposite- the attorney will allow you to make up your mind and chart your course once you have enough information to do so.
Even if your child support orders do not turn out exactly the way you want them to, the best thing you can do to protect yourself financially in the future is to make sure that the orders you were able to negotiate are written. Any issues with the language used in the order will be construed against you in all likelihood as the parent who stands to receive child support payments. It does not take much effort to work with your attorney and review the orders to make sure the language is clear. Specifics about the duration of the Child Support orders, time and manner of payment, as well as a requirement to attend mediation before litigating any matter related to child support for all great ways to ensure that you are protected as best as possible moving forward when it comes to this subject.
The bottom line is that this means you need to read through your final orders before signing them. If your attorney has not already done so, I will insist upon meeting with them to go over every aspect of the orders, most notably those regarding child support. I would not assume that I knew everything in order without reading through it first period; you should not make that assumption, either. Taking the time to make sure that you understand the order and think it is clear and straightforward is the best thing to protect yourself and your family.
Cultivate a strong relationship with your Co-parent
The last bit of information that I would like to share with you today as tips and tricks to help protect yourself from nonpayment of child support is to build a relationship with your Co-parent. You may be wondering why this is necessary, given that you already have a relationship with them. While that may be true, the fact of the matter is that your relationship is changing over time, and frankly, the state of your relationship with that person probably isn’t all that good after a family law case. It is not good enough to proceed into a relationship after your divorce or child custody case and maintain the same boundaries, attitude, and prejudices that you did and held before the case. If you do this, you will be setting yourself up for problems in the future.
The great thing about completing a family law case is that there is oftentimes an emotional and psychological release that comes with completing the case. This means that you will likely feel that a certain degree of weight has been lifted off your shoulders and that you have accomplished something that you perhaps that previously was not possible for you and your family. This allows you to gain different perspectives and put the past behind you to a great extent. This also should allow for a reproach with your co-parent where you all can start on a fresh foot in that bygones be bygones.
I am not recommending you to forgive and forget. I do not recommend that you put yourself in a position where you are or turn the other cheek dozens of times with this person. However, I am telling you that you can approach your new relationship with this person as your Co-parent and not your partner or spouse as something that allows you all to grow in a different relationship. This relationship is based on the mutual understanding that your actions will be predicated upon benefiting your child. You all do not have to concern yourselves with your emotional states or any relationship between the two of you. All you have to do is put the best interest of your child first period.
This may mean putting aside ego and pride in favor of doing what is best for your child. This almost certainly means developing stronger bonds based on communication that he perhaps had even during your marriage. I like to recommend that you and your Co-parent talk about the issues facing your child every week. This does not need to be a long conversation, but it is important to have this kind of discussion to avoid bigger issues down the road.
As it pertains to child support, you can always use these talks as an opportunity to address problems with payment or frequency of payment when the issues arise rather than when the issues begin to Mount on top of one another. Once you choose to let an issue festers over time, the size of the problem and the annoyance associated with the problem begin to Mount. For that reason, if you can put aside your differences and choose to do what is best for your child, you can accomplish a great deal. This will also ensure that you are in the best position to avoid being impacted negatively by missed child support payments.
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 the services offered to our clients by our attorneys and staff. We invite you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.