Child support is a contentious topic in the world of Texas family law. We all know at least one person in our lives who experienced problems handling this subject. Going through all the nuances of child support is important when you have a disabled child. Additionally, considerations relate to when you are a disabled adult who has child support responsibilities, as well.
In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are discussing child support concerning disability findings. Whether you or your child become disabled there is a lot for you to keep track of. Remembering that child support helps provide for your child’s best interests is key. When you are during a child support negotiation it is a stressful time. Do not underestimate the importance of planning and being intentional about working towards your goals in a child support case.
Why is child support paid?
Parents pay child support because the state of Texas wants both you and your co-parent to have an active role to play in the upbringing of your child. Whichever parent is the noncustodial or non-primary conservator pays child support. Parents pay child support once a month. Understanding your conservatorship role determines many issues in your co-parenting life. Being able to come together with a co-parent to make this relationship work determines the well-being of your child.
Can you avoid child support?
Child support questions revolve around the need to pay. As in: is it mandatory to insert child orders in every family law case involving a minor child? The answer to this question is “yes.”
Splitting custody time with your co-parent still requires the payment of child support. That does not mean you have to follow the guideline methods for calculating child support as laid out in the Texas Family Code. Child support payments are mandatory, regardless. The method of paying child support depends upon what you and your co-parent come up with.
At the end of the day, you and your co-parent need to have child support included in your final orders. A family court judge will not sign off on your custody or divorce orders until child support and medical support orders find themselves in your final orders. Working with an attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan helps to work through this issue and avoid delays in your case.
How is child support paid?
Wondering about the basics of child support? Let’s assume you are the parent who is responsible for paying child support. Child support orders are paid under a Wage Withholding Order through your employer. The judge signs the order, and his clerk sends it to your employer. You are responsible for making sure your wages are properly withheld and sent to your co-parent, however.
Many parents are also curious about direct payments of child support. Suppose that you and your co-parent have a good relationship with one another. It is normal to wonder about directly paying your co-parent child support rather than sending payment through the Office of the Attorney General. This is not allowed under our laws on child support. You would not be credited for direct payment of child support. It is recommended you pay child support directly to your co-parent.
Making child support payments directly to your co-parent means not receiving credit for those payments made. Going online to your account ledger with the Office of the Attorney General you see that no payments are credited after you make a direct payment. You and your co-parent going through the official pathways for child support payments means fewer issues down the line in your case. Do not become complacent and make these payments directly to your co-parent.
What is the method for calculating child support?
Another relevant question to ask in this situation is how do you calculate child support? Like most things in Texas Family law, this question is more complex than you may think. There are multiple methods for calculating child support. What works for your family is not necessarily the best for another family. You need to negotiate with your co-parent about how to approach this subject in the best interests of your child.
The general method for calculating child support is as follows: a net monthly income is determined for the parent who pays child support. Then, the number of kids before the court has a percentage attached to them. Multiply that percentage against the net monthly income and you have child support for that month.
However, having a disabled child (or being disabled yourself) can complicate matters. This may be a good method for beginning child support. However, you and your co-parent need to consider other methods of calculating child support to account for the needs of your child.
Can child support change over time?
Yes, it can. Child support is not set in stone from the first moment it is ordered after a family law case. It is anticipated that child support will change over time. This is due to many different factors. First, the best interests of your child change. Did your child develop a disability in the past year? If so, then child support needs adjusting.
Next, your ability to pay child support changes over time. Losing a job and finding a new job changes your income. Either you, your co-parent, or the Office of the Attorney General can file for a modification. Be sure to keep close tabs on what you earn to show the court why child support needs a modification. If not, then child support remains the same.
Working through a modification is more complex than establishing child support the first time. Choosing to work with an experienced family law attorney makes a lot of sense. An attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan provides you with a real advantage whether you are filing or defending a modification case. Contact us today for a free of charge consultation.
When does child support for a disabled child stop?
There is an end to child support in Texas. The tried-and-true rule for the payment of child support involves payments being made until your child graduates from high school or turns 18- whichever happens later. Understanding this helps to avoid situations where you stop paying child support too early.
However, in a situation where your child is disabled, this could change. Disabled children have different circumstances impacting them. Increased medical costs are first on the list. Many children have only a yearly well-child doctor’s visit to contend with. Additional visits may include a sick visit every few months. Disabled children have regular doctor visits and occasional specialist visits. These are not always covered by insurance, either.
When you have additional costs associated with the care of your child it feels like you have no place to turn. No options. Your back is against the wall. Child support for a disabled child does not always end at high school graduation or on the 18th birthday. Rather, this support continues in many cases until much later. Some children who are never able to support themselves stay on child support in some form for many years after.
What happens when you fail to make a child support payment?
Child support must be paid on time and in full each month, as ordered. There are no exceptions under the law for this. Your child support orders will not contain an exception for this. You must plan for life’s events which lead you to have some difficulty in paying child support. This is critical to staying on the right side of the law.
What happens if you fail to make a child support payment? This can happen for many reasons. Job loss is foremost among those reasons. When you lose your job, you lose income. Most people cannot save thousands of dollars in an account for a rainy day. Living paycheck to paycheck is a reality for many people. As such, it is not a far-fetched idea to miss a child support payment.
When this happens an enforcement lawsuit is filed. An enforcement lawsuit tells the judge about each occasion on which child support payments were missed. Potential punishments for missed child support payments include penalties, fines, and even the possibility of jail time. This is a serious matter you are facing. An enforcement is not the type of case you want to go it alone.
Hiring an experienced family law attorney to help with your enforcement case
The type of legal case I just mentioned is not a fantasy world that could not happen in your case. Mothers and fathers miss child support payments for a variety of reasons. Imagine a situation where you lose your job. Do you have at least six months of child support payments set aside to account for that? Most people do not.
When you do not have child support payments in reserve you walk into a situation where you are vulnerable to a lawsuit. An enforcement lawsuit can strip you of your driver’s license, hunting, and fishing license, or even your professional license to practice your career. This is all done until you pay the child support owed. Not a fun situation. You are losing money and peace of mind at this point.
Working with an attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is a game changer in this regard. We have experience defending parents who are accused of not paying child support. Additionally, if you are dealing with a co-parent who has not paid child support to you, we have the know-how to pursue an enforcement case on your behalf. Contact us today for a free-of-charge consultation with one of our family law attorneys.
What happens when a parent becomes disabled?
Let’s flip the situation and assume that you or your co-parent become disabled. This is a difficult situation for everyone involved. Not only is paying child support more difficult but you also contend with the family dynamic changing dramatically. Your life looks different now than it did before your disability or that of your co-parent. Simply put, your family needs to pivot in a time like this.
One of the issues that you need to bear in mind during this time is that the need to pay child support does not go away automatically because of the disability. Many parents in your situation assume that child support ends when a disability hits. This is not the case. Rather, you need to continue to pay child support if you are the parent who pays. By the same token, your need to receive child support continues even if your co-parent becomes disabled.
What can you do in this situation? How to proceed when payment of child support becomes a major issue due to a disability or impairment? Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance ISSDI) means still needing to pay a portion of those benefits towards the support of your child. That amount will change if a modification request is granted, however. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not paid in child support and does not count as income.
Modifying child support after an income decrease
Let’s say that your income decreases because of a disability. For example, you are no longer able to work the same job you once did and now earn significantly less money. Not somewhat less, or an uneven income amount less. You just make less money overall consistently. What can you do in this situation to counteract this decrease in income?
You would move forward to file a modification of the child support case. This happens in any situation where you experience a decrease in income. It does not matter if the decrease in income is attached to a disability, or not. Trying to make ends meet and pay child support is a challenge. The math is impossible when you go from earning a typical salary to earning disability payments.
Address this situation with your co-parent. It is not as if you are going to keep this a secret from him or her. Discussing the subject first helps to determine if an agreed amount of child support is possible. This saves time and money within the modification case itself. Anything you can do to save time in the case also saves you money. Your co-parent will like that you discussed it with him or her first rather than pushing forward to a modification case first.
Child support for an adult child who develops a disability
Suppose that your adult child develops a disability after his 18th birthday. An injury happened as a result of a car wreck and he is unable to work. A question that many parents have in this situation is whether child support is to be paid in a situation like this. After all, it is an unfortunate circumstance when a child develops a disability at any age. What is the responsibility to pay child support in a situation like this?
Short, the disability needs to have existed before your child turns 18 for you to be responsible for continued support. However, if you had already stopped paying child support and then a few months later your child develops a disability then you are not responsible for continued child support.
When you are in a situation where child support is essential you have no time to spare. Caring for your child with a disability is a tremendous responsibility for you. You need to balance the best interest of your child along with your financial well-being. This is not an easy position to find yourself in. Having a strategy and plan works out to your advantage.
Final thoughts on child support and disability
Without a doubt, every person in our world lives on a budget of some sort. Even the wealthiest among us cannot buy and consume as much as they would like as often they would like. For those of you reading this blog post who pay child support, this is even more true. The amount of money paid in child support is intended to account for the best interest of your child. This is still the priority despite the disability suffered on the part of a parent.
When you run into a situation where you or your child develop a disability it is important to make sustainable decisions. Ideally, you will move toward paying an amount of support that serves your child and does not destroy you financially. That sweet spot it’s hard to find. Working with an experienced family law attorney certainly helps.
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. Interested in learning more about how your family is impacted by the material in this blog post? Contact us today.