Having concerns over your finances during a Texas divorce case is completely normal. If we were to look at the issue from the opposite perspective, I think something would be odd if you had no concerns over your finances when it came to preparing for and going through a divorce case. There is just so much to consider when it comes to your finances that to assume the divorce will go smoothly and without any interruption to your financial well-being would be unlikely. On top of that, this scenario assumes that you are completely satisfied with your financial situation right now and have no issues going into your divorce. In short, your finances are absolutely something that you should pay attention to as you begin a Texas divorce case.
One of those areas of your finances that I think it is wise to pay attention to is matters related to your children. If you have children under the age of 18 then those kids are going to play a role in your divorce and will be impacted by this case. This doesn't mean that you should worry about this subject incessantly, but at the same time, it means that you should put some thought into how you are going to handle the subject and how much time you should devote to matters related to family finances. The well-being of your children will likely be the most crucial factor to consider when you think about whether your divorce was "successful" or not, depending upon how you count success.
What we hear about children all the time is that they are expensive. I’m a father of four kids who are, thankfully, healthy. If you have children who do not require consistent medical care for chronic conditions, then you can certainly limit how expensive they become. If you want or need them to go to a certain school that has tuition then, yes, your children can become expensive about your bottom line. However, if your children are either not in school or attending public school then the costs associated with your children may be no more than whatever it costs to feed and house them. Since you eat food and live in a home of some sort the costs associated with raising your children may be indistinguishable from how you take care of yourself.
When we talk about raising kids there are invariably going to be financial considerations. Even though I just went through a paragraph-long discussion with you about how the costs of children may not be that high I would be lying if I didn’t also mention that kids break things (including bones), lose things, and need things. Things cost money. Trust me on this one. We know that your kids are going to cost you and your spouse some money. It's ok. You love your kids. That doesn't mean that the costs of child-rearing can't be high at certain times. Given that you are now going through a divorce and are about to have your household income reduced that means you may be running into a situation where the costs of raising kids are about to become more burdensome for you. What used to be costs that you and your spouse could lean on each other for are now going to be costs that the two of you have to shoulder alone. This is not easy to bear for many families.
Preparing yourself for what the realities of this financial situation will look like is an important part of a divorce. Unfortunately, it is not an official stage of a case and courts do not require you to take a step back and examine your finances so that you can be sure you are going down a wise road that is well-lit and well-paved. The last thing you want to do is go through a difficult divorce only to find out that you are living a lifestyle that you cannot afford. Your children’s costs are surely a part of this and something that you need to examine, even if you don’t think that you are going to like what you find on the other side of that metaphorical magnifying glass.
One of the ways that a Texas divorce case does acknowledge the difficulties of raising a child after a divorce is through child support. In most divorces in Texas during and after a divorce child support will become part of your life- whether you are paying or receiving it. The process of determining who pays, figuring out the relevant factors in your life, calculating child support, paying child support, and then actually using the child support that is paid is what we are going to be discussing in today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.
As with any issue involving money and children, child support can become a combustible topic. To be sure, it is not easy to part with your money after a divorce. Child support is not paid directly to your kids. Rather, one parent pays, and one parent receives child support during and after a divorce. If you are the parent who will be paying child support this may sound like a less than ideal arrangement. Having to pay your ex-spouse money that is intended to benefit your kids may not be something that you want to get involved in. However, that is the situation that you will likely be faced with and is one that you need to acclimate yourself to.
On the other hand, if you are a parent who will be receiving child support then this is a great blog post for you to read, as well. You probably don't like the idea of having to rely upon your ex-spouse for payments intended to benefit your children. What if he doesn't pay? What if he refuses to pay? All these types of questions are valid. We are going to walk you through what to expect if you are the parent who is likely going to be receiving child support payments because of your divorce. The recourses you have available to you will depend on your ability to document missed payments or any other issues that arise. Our attorneys and staff are here to help you no matter what your situation is regarding child support in Texas.
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 consultations 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 as well as about how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
Why do parents pay child support?
The purpose of child support is to allow both parents to shoulder a part of the burden when it comes to raising children, financially speaking. One parent will pay child support while the other receives child support. The receiving parent is typically the parent with whom the children reside primarily. This parent is known as the primary conservator. The parent who pays child support is known as the non-primary conservator and is the parent with whom the child does not reside primarily.
How are those roles are determined in a divorce case in Texas?
You and your spouse are going to go through a part of the divorce where conservatorship rights and duties are going to be assigned to each of you. Those rights and duties will be based on what is in the best interests of your children as well as the role that the two of you have played primarily in the lives of your children to that point. The more involved you were with your children the more likely you can be named as the primary conservator. On the other hand, if you have taken a backseat regarding those issues up until this point it is more likely that you will be named as the non-primary conservator.
Either a family court judge will step in and must assign those roles to you all in a trial or you and your spouse will be able to negotiate your way through those issues and then establish them yourselves. Conservatorship issues are the main points of a case that drive people to go through a trial for their divorce. While most divorce cases do not require a trial many do. You can hopefully be a part of a divorce where conservatorship issues, among others, are decided through a fair settlement after negotiations. However, the better prepared you are for this subject the better prepared you will likely be for other aspects of your divorce, as well.
The primary conservator is paid child support while the non-primary conservator is the parent who pays child support. Payments are usually not made directly from parent to parent. If you get into a situation like this, then you need to understand that those are not "official" payments for your child support records. The reason is that official payments of child support go through the Office of the Attorney General. For those payments, you will want to make sure that you encourage your spouse or ex-spouse to go through the OAG and not make payments directly to you.
How is child support calculated?
There are guideline levels of child support that are calculated based on the guideline levels of support from the Texas Family Code. You can review those in your leisure time (sounds like fun!) but should know that the basic arithmetic involved is simple. The number of children you have equates to a percentage. The net monthly income of the paying parent is multiplied by that percentage to arrive at a specific figure for child support each month. This is the basic way to calculate child support in Texas and is a formula that many families utilize.
For example, let's say you have two children under the age of 18 that are going through a divorce with you. Two children in Texas equals 25% of your spouse's net monthly income and would be paid to you in child support each month. One child is 20% and each additional child is 5% on top of 20. This percentage increases, until you get to 40% of a person's net monthly income, which can be paid in child support each month. The greatest percentage a judge can order for a person's income to be paid in child support each month is 50%. Calculating your spouse's net monthly income is a side of this issue that you and your spouse need to figure out. If he or she works a typical 9-5 type of job, then it will not be difficult. However, if he or she works multiple jobs, and has rental income or investments then the calculation becomes trickier. Having an experienced family law attorney who can help you uncover all forms of income for your spouse can assist you in receiving as much child support as is necessary for your family to live a comfortable life.
Child support also depends on the needs of your child. We talked some about this earlier in today’s blog post but if your child does not have any chronic medical conditions then their life revolves around fixed costs for shelter and medical insurance as well as variable costs for amusement, clothing, food, and things of this nature. The guideline levels of support as outlined in the Texas Family Code would seem to be a good jumping-off point for you and your family if this is the case.
On the other hand, you need to consider if your child does have a chronic medical condition and whether this is something that would require an increased amount of child support to be paid each month. If you know that each month your child requires a certain amount of medical care, then you can consider that. The best interests of your child should determine the type of decisions that you and your spouse make during your divorce. It is not easy for you to have to sit and think about all the different factors in your life that may require an increased amount of child support. However, if you are in a position where child support is going to be essential to your and your child’s survival then it is an activity that you certainly need to engage in.
On the other hand, if you and your spouse share time with your child in a near-even fashion then you may be in line for less than a standard amount of child support. This is since the difference in parenting time between you and your co-parent may be minimal. For example, in a situation like this, you and your co-parent may decide to take the difference in your income and then assess child support based on this. You all can get as creative as you would like. Remember that it is only when you go before a judge for a temporary order hearing or trial that the judge can determine these issues for you. Otherwise, you and your spouse hold all the power when it comes to making decisions about what is best for your child and family.
How does child support get paid?
Child support payments typically come about because of a wage withholding order. A wage withholding order comes from the judge in your case and instructs your spouse’s employer to withhold a certain sum of money each month for child support purposes. Those payments are made directly to the State of Texas through the Office of the Attorney General. Those payments are then made directly to you. This is the preferred method for paying child support, as opposed to receiving checks or cash directly from your co-parent. You will want an official ledger of payments given that you may need to come back to court later if your spouse were to miss a payment or two, for example.
Once the money reaches your bank account you have time to decide how to utilize it. I have had more than one parent ask me if there is any way to track how that money is spent by a parent. The short answer is: no. The money goes into the bank account and can be utilized for any purpose, though it is intended to go towards the benefit of your children. Once you start to receive these child support payments you can begin to build a budget that can best account for the child support as well as the loss in income from your spouse.
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 consultations 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 as well as how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.