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Does child support end if my child gets a job?

Paying child support is a struggle for most families. Being able to fit child support into your family budget can be challenging in times like these. Everything seems to be expensive and only getting worse. You want to do everything you can to support your child but find that child support payments are difficult to manage considering your other responsibilities. Is there anything that can come along and absolve you of the responsibility of paying child support? 

One of the questions that our attorneys receive frequently relates to your child getting a job and your continued need to pay child support. As you continue to try and do your best to pay child support despite challenging economic times your mind may naturally wonder if you still need to pay support when your teen starts to work. In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are going to discuss this subject in greater detail.

Let’s start with the answer you all came here for: you will still need to pay child support even if your child starts working. However, that doesn’t mean that you came here today and could not learn anything valuable or helpful to your family. This is a huge financial responsibility that you have taken on for your family. However, that responsibility does have a cutoff date as far as when it ends. 

Child support is seen by many parents as a burden. While there is a responsibility element to the need to pay support it is also an essential contribution made by you towards the well-being of your child. While there are no set costs that child support must cover for your child, you can think of child support as how your child can be ensured of having essentials like food, clothing, and shelter. The ability to provide your child with stability and consistency is important. 

What child support can also cover for your family are things like uninsured medical care expenses, school costs, extracurriculars, and things of this nature. While these costs may not be contemplated when coming up with a specific amount of child support they certainly can be paid for, at least in part, using child support. Think about all the activities that your child is involved in. Child support can help ensure that your child has access to these activities, as well. 

What happens when your child gets a job?

Most parents are filled with a sense of pride when their child finds their first job as a teenager. We can all think back to this time in our own lives and consider what that first job meant to us. Whether you were working retail, at a fast-food restaurant, babysitting, or something entirely different, we can see that there is merit in working. As a result, you probably were quite happy when your teen landed their job. That job is a way for your child to learn responsibility and help pay for costs in their daily life. 

Not coincidentally, that is exactly how your child should view their job. This is not a substitute means of paying for essentials or even extracurricular activities. Rather, your child’s job is a way for him or her to learn a basic level of responsibility and to have some extra spending money.  Think of their income to pay for tickets to the movies rather than as a contribution to help pay for braces. 

Would you expect your child to help you pay for rent, clothing, utilities, and the like? I’m going to guess the answer to that question is: “No.” As a result, you should not expect that your child’s meager income from a part-time job could go towards paying for their necessary items. Your child support will need to continue to be paid regardless of how your child works and the income that he or she earns. 

When will your child support responsibilities come to an end?

That all being said, your responsibility to pay child support will not go on forever. There is a termination date that most of you reading this blog post can look forward to. That endpoint for child support comes at the time your child turns 18 years of age or graduates from high school- whichever occurs later. If your child comes to live with you then your need to pay child support also would come to an end. If your child were to join an active-duty military force, then the need to pay child support would also come to an end. 

This all begs the question: what is child support, how is it calculated and how can it change over time concerning your child? There are also consequences for the failure to pay child support and the potential to have your child support reduced or increased over time. Let’s get comfortable as we explore these issues in greater detail here in our blog post today.

If you have any questions about what you read today, please feel free to reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer consultations six days a week which are free of charge. We take seriously the responsibility of representing parents just like you and look forward to the opportunity to serve you and your family. 

Parents can have different feelings towards child support

Some parents feel child support to be a tremendous burden. Work can be hard to come by and a consistent income can be even more difficult to locate at times. This is a valid opinion to have. This can be your true opinion even if you love your child with all your heart and want to serve him or her well. You can hold these divergent feelings simultaneously. Having your paycheck withheld and sent to your co-parent is not exactly a fun experience even though you know the money is supposed to benefit your child. 

There is something to be said for this last point, as well. For all the assurances that your co-parent may be giving you it would be normal to have some skepticism about where the money goes for your child. I have had clients come to me in the past and ask if there is any way that the court can track how the money, they send monthly in child support can be tracked. The answer to that question is a “no” but I can understand the motivation why that may be an appealing option. Every time you see your ex-wife with a new purse it’s enough to wonder how that child support money is being spent. 

Still, you may not like that you have to pay child support, but you do so anyway. Your devotion to your child trumps any other concerns that you may be harboring. At the same time, it is not necessarily wrong to look forward to the times when you will not be on the hook for child support. These instances would come, as we’ve discussed when your child turns 18 or graduates from high school- whichever occurs later. This doesn’t mean that you are trying to skirt your responsibilities. It just means that you are looking towards the future. 

What exactly is child support supposed to be paid towards?

On the other hand, let’s consider the situation from the perspective of a parent who receives child support. While it may seem like you are raking in money each month from your co-parent, the reality is that you are trying to raise a child in a tough environment. Costs are going up all around you and you are the primary caretaker for a child. The amount of money that you receive each month in child support (if it is received at all) is only a small chunk of the total costs associated with raising your child. 

Where you and your child live matters a great deal when it comes to the total costs of raising a child. If you live in a nicer part of your town then there are increased rent and real estate costs to contend with. On the other hand, just because you live in a less expensive area of town as far as rent is concerned does not mean that there are no other costs to contend with. For example, you could have purchased a home in a less expensive area but that may mean that you feel the need to pay for private school for your child. There are tradeoffs to consider, as well. 

You, coming off a divorce, may not have had to work for quite some time. Now that you are divorced you have likely had to dust off that resume in search of your job. This could put even more of an emphasis on your ability to receive child support. You hope that looking for employment yields a good-paying job. However, it could take time for you to find that work. In the meantime, that child support is even more important to your day-to-day survival. 

Child support is supposed to cover the essentials in the life of your child such as food, clothing, shelter, and utilities. The basics that every child should have access to. When you think about items over and above necessities that does not mean that these types of costs will be covered. Think about items like private school tuition, school supplies, or even extracurricular activities. Even when you consider that you may be receiving child support, it is not as if you now have an unlimited budget to pull from to pay for all the costs associated with raising a child. 

How does child support change as your child ages?

A reasonable question to ask about child support would be if it will decrease as your child gets older. In the mind of some parents, the overall needs of a child will decrease over time given that they may find work and they are more generally taken care of at school versus at home. Extracurricular activities may pay for meals, for example. The child support paid by you towards your child will not decrease over time simply because your child has gotten older. Whatever the child support was that you and your co-parent had agreed to in your first go-around in court will be what you end up paying until your child turns 18 or graduates from high school. 

The exception to this rule is if you or your co-parent are successfully able to modify or change the child support orders in your case. This can occur in a situation where the circumstances change to the point where your current child support orders are no longer in the best interests of your child. In that case, you may be able to ask the court for a reduction or an increase in child support depending upon your circumstances. 

Two things must be true simultaneously to have child support increased. First, you need to be able to show that a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the last time you were in court. This means a major change in your life or that of your co-parent/child. Job loss, job gain, disability, or things of this magnitude would seemingly qualify as a material and substantial change. 

On top of that, you would also need to show a court that the proposed modification is in the best interests of your child. This is not always as easy as you would think. Just because you have lost a job and make less money now does not mean that it is in the best interests of your child to receive less in child support. Suppose for a moment that you did lose your job and earn less money now. This may warrant a decrease in child support in some circumstances. However, if your child is disabled then he or she may need to receive the same amount of support that he or she ever has. 

What happens if you don’t pay court-ordered child support?

There are consequences to consider if you do not pay the court-ordered child support that you are supposed to. These payments must be made each month- on time and in full. There are no excuses for the failure to pay child support. You can try to talk to your co-parent about one of these reasons but that does not give you the go-ahead to miss payments. You are technically in violation of your court orders if you miss a child support payment even one time. 

When you miss a child support payment it is wise to try and talk to your co-parent about it. Make sure that she is aware of why you missed the child support payment. Do not try to reason yourself out of a conversation of this sort. It may be difficult to talk to your co-parent about what is going on but it beats facing an enforcement case. By talking to your co-parent, she may be more comfortable with working with you directly to manage any amount of child support that you owe. 

Getting on a payment plan to pay back the child support is the most likely option and best case scenario you can gain by talking with your co-parent. People have a greater amount of respect for the person who can directly address an issue with him or her. If you do not talk to your coparent about the problem, then she may assume an incorrect reason as to why you missed the Child Support payment. Do not allow this person’s imagination to run wild. Talk with her directly about what has happened in see if you can work something out to avoid an enforcement case.

An enforcement case involves your co-parent filing a lawsuit with the court to point out the specific instances of you violating your court order regarding child support. From there, your coparent can ask the court for a range of punishments which can include fines as well as jail time. Any mitigating factors or defenses that you can offer should be presented in this hearing. Hiring an experienced family law attorney makes a great deal of sense when it comes to facing a serious charge like this.

Even if your child working does not absolve you from paying child support there are many issues relevant to a case like yours that should be thought through thoroughly. Working with an experienced family law attorney gives you a great opportunity to process different pieces of information you may need when preparing for the realities of child support. Thank you for spending time with us here on our blog today. We hope that you will join us again tomorrow as we continue to discuss relevant issues in the world of Texas family law.

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 lawsuit. 

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