One of the most contentious issues in the world of Texas family law is that of child support. Whether you are the parent who receives child support or pays child support, there is almost always something of a battle between parents as it pertains to getting this object squared away during a family law case. This is understandable considering the financial stress that families are under during and after a family law case. No question ensuring the payment of child support in full and on time is a major factor that courts look to during these types of cases.
Even in the best of situations, there can be doubts about how payments are going to be made between parents. Even when these issues are determined during a family law case it may not be as easy as you and your co-parent would have believed at the beginning of a case. As a result, the two of you need to be able to remain on the same page when it comes to child support. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have been able to serve clients on both sides of the child support issue and as a result, we can show you a path designed to minimize the disruption to your life and those of your children when child support becomes a concern.
One of the most significant fears that goes through the minds of many parents as it pertains to child support is not being able to make a payment for any number of reasons. In a way, the concerns about not being able to make a child support payment are no different than concerns over being able to make a mortgage payment or any other bill payments each month. We all know the feeling of wondering about how we are going to afford to do this or that. Sometimes the bill in question is relatively unimportant and as a result, can be cut out of our lives without much of an issue. However, when the bill or responsibility in question is something as important as child support then it rises to the level of needing to be considered in great detail.
How is child support paid?
Before we can discuss this subject of child support and what can happen if you are unable to pay your child support obligation each month to figure out how child support is paid. While child support may seem like it is a relatively straightforward issue it can get quite complex under the right circumstances. Usually, this occurs when one parent, or both, are unaware of the details regarding how child support is paid. When you see this happen it can be a potential recipe for disaster given how child support is one of the subjects that is almost sure to create a fair bit of animosity between parents when the child support is not paid as required by the family court orders.
There is a method for paying child support that allows both parents to be able to understand where the money goes once it is paid. The parent who pays child support is known as the noncustodial parent. This is the parent who does not have primary custody of the children. As a result, that parent is ordered to pay child support to even out the costs born by each parent associated with raising a child. If you are the non-custodial parent then you should expect to be ordered to pay child support until your child turns 18 or graduates from high school whichever happens later.
On the other hand, if you are the custodial parent then you are the parent who has primary custody of the children and is also the parent who receives child support. You receive child support because you were the parent who is with your child more and therefore bears more of the responsibility of paying costs associated with raising your child. Child support is intended to even out those costs and puts you in a position where you can care for your child without fear of not being able to pay bills or take care of other essentials on behalf of your family. For you, paying child support is not something that would be classified as anything but essential. You need to be able to receive child support to properly care for your family.
When the non-custodial parent pays child support it is paid through the Office of the Attorney General Child Support Division. The Office of the Attorney General Child Support Division acts as a clearinghouse for child support in Texas. There are many advantages to paying child support through the Office of the Attorney General. For one, you and your co-parent are not responsible for keeping an up-to-date ledger about child support payments and whether they have been made on time and in full. Rather, you all will have an account with the Office of the Attorney General which tells you the status of child support for your family. Whether you have made all your payments will be reflected in this account. Similarly, if you have questions about what still needs to be paid to you in child support you can also find that on the website.
For the parent who pays child support, having everything go through the Office of the Attorney General can be a great blessing given that you may have run into situations where your co-parent had attempted to change the amount of child support that he or she was asking for based on circumstances in your case. This could make your situation somewhat difficult to manage if you were on the hook for differing amounts of child support each month. At the very least, it would be difficult to budget at the beginning of the month if you could not predict how much child support you will be paying each month.
By having a court order which states how much child support you need to pay and by having those payments go through the Office of the Attorney General there is much less pressure on you to not only keep track of the amount of child support you have paid but to also keep your co-parent from changing how much support he or she will be asking for over time. You can hold one another more responsible for your actions. Also, if either of you have a problem with some issue regarding the payment or receiving of child support then you can take that up with the Office of the Attorney General rather than your co-parent.
Missing child support payments
As we alluded to at the beginning of today’s blog post, there is always a danger of an inability to pay child support coming up in your life. Everyone runs into a rough financial patch from time to time. However, some of those difficulties that are encountered may not truly be the type that is burdensome for your family. Rather, these may be temporary hiccups with your budget because of the number of factors that may be ongoing in your life. Although you may have concerns about missing bills such as child support each month, in actuality there probably will not be any best payments for you or your co-parent to consider.
However, if you truly do run into a situation where you are in danger of losing your job and have concerns about missing child support then this is a subject that you need to take up with your co-parent. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you have lost your job and as a result have some doubts about being able to pay your child support bill that month. When this happens, the temptation may be to try and avoid any discussion of it with another person. For example, you may try to land a couple of part-time jobs to make ends meet until you can land another full-time occupation. However, you may run into issues if you are unable to find suitable replacement employment while looking for a full-time job. In that case, you have harmed yourself and your child potentially. You have also opened yourself up to a potential enforcement case from your co-parent as a result of these missed child support payments.
When you miss child support payments this certainly is a violation of your child support orders. Those orders will require you to pay they specific amount of money each month on the same date. If you are unable to pay this child support on time and in full then you violate your court orders. The remedy for this, from the perspective of your co-parent, is to file an enforcement case against you seeking an order from the court where you will be ordered to pay back child support and possibly fines on top of those missed child support payments.
This can make a potentially bad situation even worse. Losing your job is one thing. Falling behind in child support is another thing period on top of that, you can be fined an additional sum of money for each violation of your court order that is proved in the enforcement hearing. If this sounds like a worthy goal to try to avoid, then this blog post today is for you. We are going to finish today’s blog post by discussing some measures that you may choose to implement in your own life to handle the situation where you have lost your job and are unable to hey child support as a result.
How to approach the subject of missing child support payments as a result of having lost your job
When you lose your job and do not have the savings necessary to continue to pay child support then you are in a difficult situation. Losing your job means acknowledging that you are in an undesirable position as far as your finances are concerned. Because of that, being able to have a plan for moving forward with child support is critical. What you do not want to do is the same that there is no way out of the situation or that you are going to face immediate consequences because of having lost your job. New paragraph on the contrary, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself, support your child, and keep the tension between you and your co-parent at a minimum throughout the process.
First, when you begin to suspect that you may be in danger of losing your job then you should consider going into storm mode. This means saving up as much cash as you can and beginning a plan that is sustainable as far as minimizing any expenses moving forward. If your concerns about losing your job proved to be overblown then you will only have a few weeks of living frequently to have to look back on. However, if your concerns when it comes to your job security are accurate then you will have served yourself well by saving money and taking steps like that.
Once you have that strong suspicion that you are about to lose your job then you should reach out to your co-parent. Ultimately, this is the person that relies upon your child support payments and you should be able to inform him or her of your impending or recent job loss. That way you can give him or her the courtesy of as much advanced warning as possible regarding the temporary interruption of child support payments. While there is no guarantee that the reaction will be anything but hostile from your co-parent, most people appreciate being told the truth rather than having something hidden from them over an extended period.
From there, you and your co-parent may be able to work something out as far as an unofficial we’re in formal payment plan. For example, let’s say that you and your co-oparen’t have worked on an agreement where you do not need to pay child support over the next two months but you will then need to start paying back any back child support what’s that to when with period has expired? This way you can know that you are not going to have an enforcement case filed against you and that your children can come to expect child support to resume within a few months.
Keep in mind, however, that there is no guarantee that you are co-parent will be willing to work with you on this. She is not in a position where any suggestions made by you as far as the payment of child support is concerned need to be considered. There is a court order which spells out your responsibilities when it comes to child support. Either you are meeting the obligations outlined in that child support order or you are not. If you are not then you certainly run the risk of being held responsible. He or she may be unwilling to file an enforcement case. This is especially true if you have violated your court orders before or if he or she is incredibly reliant upon your child’s support for income each month.
If you do lose your job then you must be able to make a decision rather quickly and then stick by that decision. What we are trying to avoid is a situation where you are caught between two plans but then you never actually set into motion either one. This not only puts you in a position where you may be held responsible for missed child support in an enforcement case but it also does not help your child from a financial perspective.
Ultimately, we think it is important for you to remember that this child support is not something that hurts you primarily but ultimately hurts your child. He or she lives in a household where your child’s work payments are critical to paying bills and meeting other monthly obligations. Even though it is your co-parent that you will be hearing from if you miss child support payments it is your child who stands to be benefited by these payments or harmed by these missed payments.
Choosing to work with an experienced family law attorney can be the difference between a bad outcome for yourself and your child if you end up needing to miss a few months of child support payments. The attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are here to assist you and your family during this time. We appreciate you spending time with us here on our blog and hope that you will join us again soon as we continue to discuss the ever-changing world of Texas family law issues.
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 circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.