Child support is always one of the most significant topics in a child custody or divorce case involving children. You and your co-parent will need to decide a range of issues before being able to hammer out any court orders on not only who pays child support but how much and for how long. A range of factors specific to your case will be considered when making these all-important determinations. Fortunately, you have come to the right place to learn about them.
At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we understand that you and your family are one of a kind. You may not be surprised to learn that your family law case will be as unique as your family. There are no two family law cases that are exactly alike. This is what makes serving our clients both an honor and a challenge- we prepare for your case as diligently as if you were our own family. We know what our clients have at stake in a family law case, and we take the responsibility seriously of representing them.
To find out more about the advantages you can secure for yourself and your family by hiring the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, please contact us today for a free-of-charge consultation. You will be meeting with an experienced, professional individual who will listen to your situation and offer information that is specific to you. There is no “one size fits all” case around the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We respect the intricacies and challenges of your case and apply our experience to help you achieve the best result possible.
A word on the importance of child support
Child support is a serious matter involving your family both during and after a family law case. The financial support of your children is critical. The State of Texas believes that both you and your co-parent have important roles to play when it comes to raising your children. There are emotional, educational, and health-related responsibilities and duties associated with raising your children. However, there is a financial and material responsibility as well that we are going to focus our attention on today.
Child support reflects the reality that after a family law case, there will likely be some discrepancy in terms of time spent with the children between you and your co-parent. Suppose that you are the parent who is named as the possessory conservator of your child. This means that you will have visitation rights to your child while your co-parent has the right to determine the primary residence of your little one. For our purposes, this means that your child will “live” with your co-parent while you have the right to visitation.
Along with the right to determine a child’s primary residence, your co-parent will also have the right to be paid child support by you. Why is? Under a Standard Possession Order (or any possession order like a SPO), the parent with visitation rights will not have as much time with your child. If you are with your child 45% of the year, then this would mean that you would end up paying for 45% of incidental costs associated with raising your child.
To even this out, the law in Texas is that child support would need to be paid from you to your co-parent. One of the many questions that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan tend to receive quite frequently when it comes to child support is whether the parents can agree to there not being any need to pay child support in each case. As in, whether you and your co-parent can simply agree to not pay child support and then leave it at that.
The answer to this question is: no. A judge is unlikely to sign a court order regarding minor children that does not involve the payment of at least some child support. The reason for this is that the State of Texas wants to ensure that both you and your co-parent are contributing to the financial and material well-being of your child. With no child support being paid, there is a grey area where it can appear that you are not contributing as much as your co-parent. Rather than put your child in a position where he may not be getting what he needs from a financial standpoint, expect to pay something in child support both during and after your case comes to an end.
There are ways to creatively approach child support that do not involve the kind of calculations that we are about to get into, however. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan understand that your family is unique and that there need to be unique solutions developed for you all. In that spirit, we can help you negotiate child support to a point where it makes the most sense for your family. If that sounds interesting to you, then please give us a call today.
The income of the non-custodial parent
Right off the bat, your income as a non-custodial parent will be crucial to consider when calculating child support. Whether you are a millionaire, unemployed, or somewhere in between, you will need to pay child support to your child both during and after your family law case. The key to understanding how much you can expect to pay in child support is determining your income.
At first glance, this may seem like a relatively easy assignment. You can go online to view paystubs and from there your income would be easy to determine, right? Not so fast. For some of you who are reading this blog post that is exactly how you would determine your income for child support purposes. Specifically, it would be your net monthly income that the court would be most concerned with. Taxes, health insurance, and other considerations are removed from your gross income to arrive at a figure that is more or less your exact net monthly income.
However, some of you may come into a family law case with more grey areas as far as your income is concerned. For example, consider a situation where you work a typical 9-5 job for a small business here in the Houston area. You are a salaried employee which provides you with a great deal of stability when it comes to how much income you earn. However, in addition to this salaried job, you also work several “side hustles” where you are a contract employee. Not only that, but you have a side business that you someday hope to shift to your full-time job to replace the salaried position you currently hold.
What we have now is a much more complex situation. It is not as easy as it once was to simply look at your paychecks and add them all up to figure out your net monthly income. Some of the work that you do may cause you to have an irregular income. Good months can see you earn $10,000, while slower months see you earn $6,000 from your salaried job and a little more. The point is that you cannot add up your paychecks or even do an average per month based on what you earn in a year.
Rather, you need to be certain that your true net monthly income is being utilized for child support. You can bet your bottom dollar that your co-parent and her attorney will be scrounging around looking for every dollar they can attribute to you as far as income is concerned. With that said, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are skilled at helping our clients arrive at a fair and accurate amount of income that can be applied to child support.
The number of children involved in your case
Next, factor #2 for our consideration today is the number of children that you are bringing before the court in this family law case. Again, this may seem like a simple question to answer. Within the Texas Family Code, there are guideline levels of support that are based on your net monthly income and a percentage that is applied against that income based on the number of children that you have.
Those percentages start at 20% for one child and increase by five percent up to no less than 40% of your net monthly income to be paid when you have six or more kids before the court. Getting back to our prior section of today’s blog post, when you are talking about paying potentially 40% of your net monthly income towards child support it is crucial that you not take any shortcuts to calculate where you are as far as your income is concerned.
Child support is typically paid for minor children only. This means children who have not yet reached the age of 18 or graduated from high school, whichever happens later. This means that if your 18-year-old turns that age before the end of their senior year of high school then you will need to wait until graduation to stop paying child support. By the same token, if your seventeen-year-old graduates from high school before their 18th birthday you would still need to pay child support until he or she turns 18.
Additionally, if you have children that you are responsible for supporting who are not before the court in this current family law case then that should be considered, as well. Typically, you will receive a reduction in the amount of child support dependent upon each child that you are responsible for supporting outside the current case. On average, you can receive a 2.5% reduction in your overall percentage of net monthly income paid to child support for every child you pay support for who is not involved in the current case.
Finally, consider that adult children may also require child support. If you are going through a divorce and have an adult child who is 23 years old but has a severe mental impairment that does not allow him to work, then you and your wife may decide to have a certain amount of child support paid to her for a certain period after the divorce. This reflects the reality that your wife may not be able to go out and earn a full-time income due to her need to be at home to care for your child.
Medical support and health insurance
As a part of a family law case involving minor children, it will need to be mentioned in your final orders that medical support and health insurance are considered. The State of Texas wants to ensure that you have some skin in the game when it comes to paying for the medical needs of your child. For instance, health insurance will need to be provided for your child one way or another. This may look like you are providing your child with insurance, you are reimbursing your co-parent for her providing insurance or you reimbursing the state for Medicaid if neither you nor your co-parent have access to health insurance on your own.
Health insurance is a big deal in a family law case with kids. You should start to do some research into the different options that you have available to you through your employer. No matter what you and your co-parent are ultimately going to do with this subject for final orders, you cannot change the insurance for your kids or your spouse during a family law case. For example, in your divorce, you cannot remove your children or your spouse from your health insurance during the case. You can remove your spouse after the case ends, however.
Medical support is another subject relevant to this discussion. Not all costs associated with the medical care of your children will be covered by health insurance. Those out-of-pocket costs are what we will be most concerned with when we look at medical support. In most family law cases this looks like you and your co-parent figuring out how to divide up these uninsured medical costs.
For instance, you may decide to split the costs down the middle (50/50) so that both of you share equally in these costs. Or you may take your income and then divide up the uninsured costs based on who earns more money. The spouse who earns more money would pay for these out-of-pocket costs proportionally based on their income. However, if you all decide to divide up these costs it is important to do so in a way that is straightforward and written in your court orders.
The last factor that we are going to discuss in our blog post today is known as “add-on” or additional costs that can be considered in the calculation of child support. These would be any additional costs that are associated with raising your child that you and your co-parent would need to consider in your case. As we have been talking about for an extended period today, your case is unique, and these additional costs are not going to be the same for your family as they are for any other family going through a child support case.
For instance, if your child is in private school and you and your co-parent would like to see that continue then you may decide to add this cost into the child support calculation. How you decide to do so is up to you. It could be that the two of you treat private school tuition like you would out-of-pocket medical expenses. In this way, you could split the cost between the two of you in a way that reflects your income.
Next, many children participate in extracurricular activities. How are you and your co-parent going to consider these costs when you calculate child support? In some cases, you may not want to do so for whatever reason. The costs may be too variable, or you may not be sure that your child will even participate in these events moving forward.
However, in other situations, you may want to build the costs of these extracurriculars into the child support that you pay-especially if the costs are fixed and predictable. Private lessons, gym fees, memberships- the list goes on and on. If you can predict how much these expenses will be then it makes sense to build them into the child support figure. If nothing else, it provides you with predictability as far as how much you are responsible for paying. That way you will not run into a situation where your co-parent is asking you for varying amounts of money each month to help pay for these extracurricular activities.
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.