In the world of Texas family law, child support is one of those subjects where many people believe that they know it all. It is such a commonly discussed subject within a divorce or child custody case that almost everyone who enters a family law case is familiar with at least the general prospects of what child support is. With that said, there is always room to learn more about a subject this important. On top of that, with so much known about child support in our culture we wanted to make sure that you had an opportunity to pinpoint 5 pieces of information that you may not have known before today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.
As we focus on this subject, we want to make it clear that child support does not have to be a subject that causes you and your opposing party to lose track of all the other important issues in your case. Rather, we know that there are many competing interests in a child support, child custody, or divorce case that are jumping up and down and trying to get your attention. One of the major misnomers that people have surrounding child support is that it is paid to help your co-parent first and foremost. This is where we can begin discussing the five things that you may not know about child support.
#1: Child support exists to make sure that both parents provide financially for a child
While many people may understand that child support is a part of their case those same folks may not be aware as to why child support needs to be paid. This is not something that parties agree to because they feel like it or because they think it is fair. Rather, the Texas family code believes that both parents should be contributing to the financial well-being of their children. It does not matter who sees the children more or what the specific circumstances you all are facing may be. Rather, simply being able to contribute to the needs of your child for a short period is what child support is intended to do.
Think back to your life with your co-parent and child before your family law case. No matter if you are the parent with whom your child resides primarily or are the parent with whom your child resides on weekends, there is still a need for you to learn what your relationship is with child support. The primary conservator of your child is the parent with whom your child resides primarily. This is usually the parent who receives child support. If this is you then you need to be aware that the child support you receive can be used to pay for anything in your household. It does not have to be something directly related to your child.
I mention this because I have had a handful of parents over the years ask me if there is any way to track or trace all their child support payments are being spent. There is no way for the state of Texas to keep track of the child support that you or spending or paying. For those of you who are interested in how your co-parent spends the child support that you pay the best that I can tell you is that you need to be comfortable and trusting of him or her. It can take some time to develop this trust, but it can also go a long way towards making sure that parents like yourselves can function together while raising a child in two different households.
What should this tell you? For starters, it is important to understand the financial needs of your family and your child during the child custody or divorce case. There is no guarantee that you will get a second chance to attend to these matters after the divorce or child custody case comes to an end. We know that there are a lot of moving pieces in a divorce right you should focus on child support when you have an opportunity. Assuming that the guideline levels of child support are going to work for your family could be a mistake if your child has a special medical need, for example. You should have a detailed analysis that has already been performed so that you can negotiate in good faith with your co-parent.
The more detailed and accurate you can be when trying to negotiate child support, the better off you will be. Imagine trying to make a point in a meeting at work but you don’t have any details in front of you and your presentation is full of facts and figures with none of them relevant to your case or project that you were working on. You probably would not be able to with many arguments or debates at work about the project. The same goes for your divorce. You and your attorney should work together to determine what the needs are of your child and to provide backing for that position within your case.
Child support should not be paid directly to your co-parent
Many people who go into a child support, child custody, or divorce case assume that all payments of child support are made directly to the other parent. This would frequently involve using the children to drop off money, cash, or checks to their parents probably half of their other parents. This would be a mistake to assume and can unnecessarily complicate your child custody or divorce case. Child support must be paid according to the terms of your final decree of divorce. As a result, you should be familiar with the date on which child support is paid in the amount that you have ordered to pay.
The method of payment typically goes through the Office of the Attorney General, not through direct payments. The Office of the Attorney General has a child support division that oversees the payment and receipt of child support every day. Rather than paying your co-parent directly with child support, you should be sure to go through the office of the attorney general. The first step towards doing this is to have a way to withhold an order signed by the judge in your case. This way to withholding order will be signed by the judge and then submitted to your employer. That way your employer knows exactly how much money to hold back for child support purposes.
There are two main benefits to making sure that child support goes through the office of the attorney general. For one, it puts you in a situation or position where you are not susceptible to your co-parent ever trying to continually negotiate child support with you. Anyone who has had pain in this position before knows how frustrating it is to have a co-parent change their mind continuously about how much child support needs to be paid to him or her. Just when you have your budget set up to account for child support your ex-spouse comes in to change that scenario. Now that you have child support in writing you are not vulnerable to the changing opinions or needs of your co-parent.
Child support needs to be paid in your case
Many parents who go through a child custody or divorce case will attempt to make an argument that no child support must be paid. This can be done for any number of reasons. Whatever your reasoning is you should understand that a family court judge will not approve your final orders if they contain provisions for child support. The reason for this is that the law in Texas states that both parents should contribute financially to the upbringing of their children. By agreeing for child support not to be paid you and your co-parent are positioning one of you to have less at stake when it comes to raising your child.
Remember that child support is required in family law cases because the. Those who have visitation rights will be spending less time with the child during the year. As a result, he or she would have less financial responsibility daily than the parent with whom the child lives primarily. Even if you have a very well thought out reason as to why child support should not be paid you will not be able to get through your family or case with no child support exchanging hands. You should plan on at least some child support being paid in your case rather than none.
If you are interested in figuring out a way to minimize the amount of child support that must be paid, then you can do so in several ways. One of the best ways to consider a reduced amount of child support would be to figure out the difference in yearly income between you and your co-parent and base child support on that difference. This way the full, net monthly income of your go up here it does not have to be considered. This results in a reduced amount of child support which should still be helpful to pay for the daily needs of your child. This plan works especially well if you and your co-parent have similar income levels.
The key to arriving at a mutually agreeable amount of child support to be paid is to put some effort into these calculations and to plan wherever possible. Trying to plan for these things well at mediation or would you receive a phone call from the opposing attorney is a mistake. He will never be well prepared, and your family will suffer as a result. The more time and thought you could put into this subject the better your child will be in the long run. There is no guarantee that the situation will remain the same for you and your family moving forward but there is every reason to believe that the effort you put into this negotiation now will pay dividends for your child at least in the short term.
Modifications of child support are possible but not always easy
A modification case requires two things in Texas. One, it requires that you be able to show that a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred in your life, the life of your co-parent, or the life of your child since the last time that a court order was issued. Once you can prove that this occurred you can get to the second thing that must be true: that the requested modification is in the best interest of your child. Meeting both standards can be a challenge but it is entirely possible. As I’m sure you can imagine, the lives of your children will not stay the same from the time they are young until the time that they are ready to graduate from high school. There are any number of situations that may arise in the life of your child it is up to you to document these changes and prepare an argument as to why they bear a modification of the Child Support amount.
The tricky part is being able to organize your modification case and have evidence backing up the points that you are making. Child support can be modified if the income of the paying parent either increases or decreases such that the revised child support number would be either $100 more or less. This requires some basic math to be performed. Otherwise, the court would look to the circumstances of you, your co-parent, and your child to determine if the material and substantial change has occurred. This could look like a medical need developing for your child. Or your co-parent may have lost their job and there are new places of employment that do not pay him or her as well as the prior location.
Having an experienced family law attorney can help you in the area of child support
When you are approaching the subject of child support the more help you could get, the better. Do not assume that just because the Texas Family Code contains various provisions on how child support should be paid does not mean that it is simple for you to just go through the code book and negotiate child support from there. There are almost always unique circumstances that are facing your family where you could lean on an attorney to help guide you. While it is required for you to hire an attorney in your case there are very advantages to you doing so.
For example, if you are the parent who expects to receive child support then you need to be able to uncover all sources of income for your co-parent. Some families do not investigate every possible source of income for a parent. This means you are leaving money on the table that could otherwise benefit your child. It does not mean that you are being greedy when you work to ensure that all sources of income are being considered for the calculation of child support. Rather, you are performing basic due diligence are behalf of your child.
An attorney will also help you to uncover circumstances and situations that affect your child which you may not have considered as far as why child support should be what it is. There is nothing wrong with calculating your child support based on the guidelines outlined in the Texas Family Code. However, these guidelines are just that: guidelines. It does not mean that your family necessarily must follow what they contain. Rather, your child must think through all the circumstances that may be relevant for him or her before deciding on an amount of child support that is appropriate.
The experience of a family law attorney can help you to take your time and make sure that all relevant factors are considered. Many times, people will ignore or disregard factors in a case for no apparent reason other than that they are trying to move too quickly, for example. What you can do is make sure that you are leaving no stone unturned in your case and are being diligent on behalf of your child. Your attorney does not make decisions for you within the case but rather, will help guide you and provide you with the information that you need to make good decisions both now and in the future.
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 about how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.