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Child Support is no laughing matter (even for famous soccer players)

What lengths would you go to to avoid paying child support? Hopefully, the answer to that question is no lengths at all. Paying child support (if you are ordered by a judge to do so) is a good thing. Supporting your child (even if you are not ordered to do so by a judge) is also a good thing. Children are good things and being a parent is a good thing. As long as we are on the same page with these statements, I think we can also stand to laugh a little this morning. Child support and laughter aren’t always two things that go hand in hand with one another, but I think that they will be today.

When thinking about the subject of avoiding child support, a few of the attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan recalled a situation back in 2016 involving the Ecuadorian soccer player, Enner Valencia. Mr. Valencia, at that time, was playing professional soccer for the English club, Everton. However, Everton allowed Mr. Valencia to return home to Ecuador to play in a soccer match in October 2016 in preparation for the World Cup. This is the sort of thing that happens all the time in soccer. A player has their professional club responsibilities abroad but will return home to play matches in preparation for international tournaments, such as the World Cup.

This situation involving Mr. Valencia was anything but a run-of-the-mill trip home, however. While preparing for the game Mr. Valencia was approached not once, but twice, by police and an attorney for the mother of his five-year-old child regarding a $17,000 delinquency in child support. Mr. Valencia had owed child support over a few years, but the court and the child’s mother had not been able to try and collect the money in person given Mr. Valencia’s living in England for much of the year. However, when it became known that Mr. Valencia would be returning to Ecuador to play for the national team in a World Cup qualifying match then the attorney and law enforcement decided to act.

A judge had issued an order that allowed law enforcement to apprehend and arrest Mr. Valencia regarding his back child support. First, the attorney and law enforcement attempted to arrest him while he was warming up for the game but were unable to do so. Soccer players have good speed and endurance, so I guess all that training was a big help when it came to avoiding jail time. Next, when the team bus was returning to the stadium immediately before the game the same law enforcement officers attempted to stop the bus. Mr. Valencia was also not arrested at this point.

You might have thought that their attempts at arresting Mr. Valencia twice in one day would be enough. Wrong. Law enforcement would again try to arrest Mr. Valencia to the point where Mr. Valencia faked an injury in the 82nd minute of the soccer match so that he could be taken off the field by ambulance. All to avoid being arrested for not having paid his child support. There were not any details that I could find about the specific legal case in Ecuador involving his child, the child's mother, and child support but if nothing else this was an entertaining story. Eventually, the judge rescinded the order which allowed Mr. Valencia to be arrested and no further attempts at apprehending him were made while he was in Ecuador.

Child Support in Texas

Now, let’s take a trip north from Ecuador to Texas. The attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan may not be experts when it comes to Ecuadorian soccer players but we do know a thing or two about Texas family law. For today's blog post, we are going to be writing about child support. What does it mean to have child support assessed in your case, what are your responsibilities for paying and what can happen if you fail to make your child support payments on time and in full? These are the questions that we are going to be asking and answering in today's blog post.

While you may not be chased down by the police and a lawyer every time you fall behind in your child support it is no doubt a stressful situation to find yourself in when you owe child support. If you find yourself in that type of situation, I recommend that you reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Whether you are trying to establish child support orders initially or need to mount a defense for past-due child support, our attorneys are here to fight alongside you. We will advocate for your rights while keeping in mind that your child’s best interests need to maintain as well.

Which parent will be ordered to pay child support?

In a typical child custody case, there are various roles that each parent will fulfill. On the one hand, you have the parent who will be named as the parent who has the right to determine the primary residence of the child. This is usually the parent who cares for the child often and is also the primary caretaker of the child historically. This parent has the best opportunity to be named as the primary conservator. The law does not favor mothers or fathers in making this determination but rather looks at the history of involvement with the child in large part when making decisions on this topic.

One of the benefits of being the primary conservator of a child is that you can determine not only the primary residence of your little one but also receive child support to help pay for that child's necessities. Child support is designed to help pay for your child's essentials. It is not designed to help your child lead any sort of extravagant lifestyle. Food, shelter, clothing, etc. You will be able to negotiate the amount that you receive on behalf of your child, but it is typically tied to the guidelines as outlined in the Texas Family Code.

If you are the parent who is not named as the primary conservator of your child, then you will be the one paying child support. In most family law cases there is a requirement to pay child support. Unless custody is split 50/50 there is enough of a discrepancy in time between parents that child support becomes an essential factor to be paid. As the possessory conservator of your child, you should expect to pay something in child support.

It could be that you pay child support based on the child support guidelines in the Family Code. Your net monthly income is considered and then multiplied by a percentage. That percentage is determined by taking the number of children before the court and looking up the corresponding percentage of your income that must be paid. One child equals 20%, two children equal 25%, and up to 40% for five children or more. At most, a court can order that 50% of your net income be paid to your child's other parent in monthly child support. You can do some quick math in your head to determine the amount of child support that you may need to pay considering your children and your income each month.

What is the process like involving the ordering of child support?

Let’s say that you are going to be the parent who is ordered to pay child support. A reasonable question currently is to wonder about how you are going to get the money from your wallet to your co-parent. There are ways for you to do that that are simple. You could give your co-parent cash each month. You could pay him or her directly with a check. You could even do a direct transfer from your bank account to hers. All of these are good ideas, but you may be surprised to learn that they are not the preferred method of paying child support. There is an established method for child support payment that the State of Texas has set up to encourage parents to take part.

That method involves going through the Office of the Attorney General Child Support Division. The Office of the Attorney General is the governmental body in Texas that oversees the payment and receipt of child support. A wage withholding order will be made available to you after your divorce or child custody case which allows you to have your employer's information filled out so that you can submit it to the court. That order will be signed by the judge and then passed along to the Office of the Attorney General. From there, it is sent to your employer who will be able to hold back a certain amount of your paycheck each month for child support purposes. It is your responsibility to notify your co-parent and the Attorney General when and if you change employers.

This is a great method of paying child support. It may strike you as invasive at first but here is why I think it is a great system to get involved in. For one, you will always have an official record of payments that is maintained on the OAG website. You and your co-parent will not have to wonder about whether your payment was sent or received. Just log into your account online and you can see exactly what has been paid and what still needs to be paid. Simple. The bickering that can go on back and forth between parents is eliminated under this type of arrangement.

Another aspect to consider is that you as a parent who pays child support will no longer be susceptible to having to alter your child support each month based on the whims and requests of your co-parent. You may have found yourself in situations each month where your co-parent asked you to pay one amount of child support in a certain month only to see that amount of child support increase in another month. The specific bills of the month in a household you don't live in determine how much money you had to pay in child support.

This situation put you in a spot where you could not budget for your household due to you never knowing in advance how much child support you would have to pay. Now that you have a child support order in place, and have your payments come out of your paycheck automatically it is not such a bad thing for you.

Additionally, the last thing you want to do is pay child support as you are ordered to and then not receive credit for having done so. The Office of the Attorney General states that informal child support payments made directly from you to your co-parent are not counted on their official ledger. Rather, the child support that you pay through their office will count towards your child support obligation each month. You run a risk of not getting your child support counted each month when you write a check and give it to your co-parent.

All in all, it is normal to have questions about the way that child support works in Texas. It can take some time to get accustomed to paying and receiving child support once your family law case comes to an end. Now that we are nearing the end of our blog post I would like to discuss an additional topic related to child support. This is a topic that our soccer-playing father, Mr. Valencia, had to figure out how to deal with in Ecuador. Namely, what can happen if you fail to pay your child support on time and in full?

The consequences of falling behind in child support payments

For starters, some situations are beyond your control which can leave the payment of child support. You could lose your job, get sick, become injured or have another circumstance come into play which makes it impossible for you to pay child support. With that said, these situations in and of themselves do not absolve you from having to pay child support. There are steps that you should take if you see a disruption of child support set to occur.

You should work to create a household budget for yourself once your family law case is over. This may sound overly simplistic. However, a household budget will permit you to spend money and can help you to assign a role to each dollar that comes into your house. When you fail to budget it is hard to make sure that all your bills and other essentials can be paid. Not only that, but it makes it difficult for you to plan and save money. When you lose your job, see your hours cut back, or otherwise have your income reduced that can be part of a valid excuse for not paying child support but you need to do more than that. Preferably, you will have money in reserve waiting to pay child support while you stabilize your income.

What can you expect if you fall behind in paying child support like Mr. Valencia? First, you will likely be contacted by your co-parent with a strong complaint. If you can talk to her about the missed child support as well as discuss how you are going to become current again that would go a long way towards resolving the situation. If you can pay child support in any amount you should do so. This will prevent you from falling so far behind that it can seem like there is no way to escape.

The other outcome that may result from your falling behind in child support is that you could face an enforcement lawsuit for child support. Enforcement seeks to enforce the terms of your court order when it comes to the payment of child support. This type of lawsuit requires you to account for the missed child support alleged by your co-parent. You can submit various defenses to the missed payments. At the end of the case, the judge will consider the evidence, circumstances, amount of child support arrearage, and other factors and will issue a decision.

Among the consequences related to child support payments being missed are penalties in the form of fines, attorney's fees, and even jail time. For this reason, it is s a great idea for you to contact an experienced family law attorney to learn as much as you can about this area of the law and to prepare for the possible outcomes of a child support enforcement case.

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Child Support Ebook

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Other Updated Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Texas Custody Lawyer on Your Child Support Rights
  2. What is considered child support?
  3. Four Important Child Support Factors in Texas
  4. A Look at Texas Child Support Orders
  5. How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?
  6. Property settlements, child support, and hidden assets of famous soccer star
  7. Does Child Support End if My Child Gets a Job?
  8. How to Terminate Child Support Arrears in Texas: A Step-by-Step Guide
  9. What happens to child support if a parent dies?
  10. Can You Withhold Visitation if Your Ex Hasn’t Paid Child Support?
  11. What Is Medical Support In Texas?
  12. If you have primary custody (custodial parent), you can still be ordered to pay child support?

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