The Ultimate Guide to Child Support in Texas What Every Parent Needs to Know               

Tough times in the world of child support can mean tough times for your family. Are you worried about some aspect of child support as a Texas parent? Whether you are a parent who expects to receive child support or will be paying child support, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan has your back. With so much information on the internet concerning child support it can be difficult to know exactly what you can trust. Look no further, and allow this blog post to serve as your guide.                 

 Why do I need to pay child support?               

Child support is a key element in any case involving minor children. One of the questions that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan receive with some frequency is do parents pay child support in the first place. The answer to that question is that the State of Texas believes that it is in the best interests of your child to have both you and your co-parent contribute financially to your child. That means, depending on what role you play in your child’s life, you would either receive or pay child support as a part of the case.                 

Am I going to pay or receive child support?               

This is the million-dollar question. Whether you will receive or pay child support depends on your role as far as the conservatorship of your child. Conservatorship refers to the right to make decisions on behalf of another person. It also refers to the duty to care for that person. Your legal relationship with your child revolves around the conservatorship held by you and your co-parent on behalf of your child.               

The most unique part of this relationship is that you and your co-parent will both be conservators but you will share in conservatorship rights and duties. Many of those rights and duties even out between the two of you. Some rights and/or duties may be held exclusively by one or the other. Still, other rights or duties may be held independent of the other parent. This means that either of you can make decisions regarding certain subjects without having to consult with the other parent first.                 

Understanding your rights and duties is critical to the success of your family and your child after the conclusion of your family law case. Among those rights and duties are the duty to pay child support and the right to receive child support. Typically, the parent who has primary conservatorship rights will receive child support. This means that if your child lives with you primarily then you would be in line to receive child support.     

Other options with child support             

On the other hand, if you are the parent who has visitation rights to your child then you would be responsible for paying child support. The payment of child support is a major part of supporting the well-being of your child. Even though you would be paying the support to your co-parent, you would be making those payments in support of your child. This money goes towards paying the essential costs of raising your son or daughter- food, clothing, shelter, educational costs, and things of this nature.                 

One of the major reasons why conservatorship is such a hotly contested issue in family law cases is due to the issue of child support being determined by your designation as a primary or “non-primary” conservator. In child support terms you are the custodial or noncustodial parent. If you have concerns over the issue of conservatorship and/or child support it is best to consult with an experienced family law attorney today. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan offers free-of-charge consultations where we can listen to your questions, and provide you with information that allows you to make better decisions for yourself and your family.               

Is child support treated the same in child custody and divorce cases?               

Every child custody case deals with the subject of minor children and parents’ rights to those children. Child custody cases relate to families with minor children whose parents did not marry. A child custody case is formally known in the world of Texas family law as a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR). Attorneys file SAPCR cases in the county where your child resides. One of the issues that will be a part of your child custody case is that of child support.                 

You may also have a child custody case as part of your larger divorce case. A divorce in Texas deals with two married people- either through a ceremonial marriage or via a common law marriage. Texas is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. This means that a divorce case can be filed by one spouse for no other reason than irreconcilable differences or a conflict in personalities. A divorce case deals with two main subjects: 1) division of the marital estate and 2) conservatorship/custody issues related to minor children.                 

Even though your case is known as a divorce and not a child custody case, it will still deal with the same family laws that apply to a stand-alone child custody case. The divorce case will have separate issues that relate to community property as well as custody issues. Child support is handled the same in a child custody case as it is in a divorce case.                 

How can child support be determined in your case?               

Texas Child Support Guidelines are straightforward. A percentage of your net monthly income is paid towards child support each month. However, the devil is in the details. We will spend some time discussing the details of the child support calculation today.                 

Net monthly income takes into consideration all income coming into your home. Your main job counts as income. Whether you are salaried or paid by the hour this is the primary income source for most people. Additionally, if you have side jobs, passive income, or multiple income streams then these must be accounted for. Sometimes these side jobs are difficult to locate as the parent who receives child support. Many times co-parents attempt to hide all their income.                

An experienced family law attorney helps to uncover the sources of income of a parent. This requires you to submit discovery questions upon your co-parent. Discovery requests are helpful to learn as much as you can about your co-parent and their income sources. Responses to your requests come within thirty days. Now you know all your co-parent’s sources of income and can estimate child support more accurately.                 

Special circumstances of your child matter               

Calculating child support means taking into consideration the life of your child. Starting with, does your child have a disability or special need? If so, then the child support in your case may exceed the guidelines for child support as outlined in the Texas Family Code. When your co-parent cannot work to care for your child this is a circumstance worth reflecting on for child support.                

Thoroughly consider all subjects related to the life of your child. Maintain the best interests of your child at the top of your list of goals. Do not forget that what is in your child’s best interests may not be in your own. Many parents find this a difficult distinction to draw. However, thinking clearly about child support means putting your child first. Even if that requires you to pay more in support than you feel comfortable with.                 

Above guidelines, child support is not the norm in Texas child custody cases. It becomes a viable option when considering your child and their needs. Not thinking through this issue means leaving money on the table for your child. This is a major mistake to make in your case. Taking sufficient time to perform due diligence eliminates a great deal of risk associated with making good decisions on behalf of your son or daughter.                 

Having questions about child support is normal               

Questioning whether child support needs to be paid in your case is a normal reaction. Loving your child with all your heart is one thing. However. Being on the hook for child support is enough to make even the most loving parent turn skeptical. Where does this money go? Why does your co-parent get the money on behalf of your child? Can’t your co-parent provide you with an accounting for how that money is spent?               

We at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan understand your concerns with child support. Acknowledging the difficulty and necessity simultaneously is what makes child support unique. Paying child support means displaying diligence on behalf of your child. Automating the payment of child support makes the process simpler. Understanding why child support is paid also simplifies the process.               

Do you and your co-parent have a plan when it comes to child support? Negotiating child support with your co-parent makes sense. Discussing a complex and emotional subject before your case even begins shows a great deal of maturity. Many parents do not discuss matters like this together. This is a missed opportunity to do something positive for your child.                 

Does child support have to be paid in your case?               

Paying child support is a part of every family law case involving minor children. No matter if yours is a divorce or child custody case, having minor children means that child support is paid. When you and your co-parent negotiate together it is tempting to eliminate child support. However, the State of Texas wants both parents to have skin in the game. One parent cuts themselves off from major responsibility when no child support is ordered.                 

Taking your final orders before a judge with no child support included means that the court cannot sign off on the orders. Rather, you must include child support in those orders. Otherwise, no specific plan exists for how to support your child financially. Leaving much of the financial planning for your child up in the air is not in your child’s best interests.                 

Taking the difference in your income and that of your co-parent and basing child support on this difference is one method of calculating child support. Going off what is contained in the Texas Family Code may not suit your child. In that case, determining an appropriate amount of child support is job number one for you and your lawyer.                 

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are the diligent and experienced advocates you need to represent yourself and your child in a child support matter. We take sufficient time to learn about our cases and the families that are involved. You are no stranger to us once you sign up as a client.                 

Where do you pay child support?               

Are you used to paying child support directly to your co-parent? Many families pay child support directly from parent to parent. Informally, this is not bad before you file a child support case. However, informal child support payments do not count once you have a child support order. Once you are in court, your family court orders mandate payment through the Office of the Attorney General-Child Support Division. Payments made directly to your co-parent do not count officially.               

Why does this matter? The Office of the Attorney General-Child Support Division has an online ledger that keeps track of your child support payments. You are kept up to date on what you have paid, what your co-parent receives, and what is owed. This makes it official and prevents either of you from disputing those amounts. When you make payments directly to your co-parent this throws the whole accounting off.                 

Avoid paying child support directly to your co-parent. Even if she tells you that it is ok. Make the payments through the OAG and don’t look back. This way you cannot argue that payments were made that are not on their list. Your co-parent cannot argue that you missed a payment here or there. The more you follow the rules the less of an opportunity for a dispute there is.                 

Can you change child support orders?               

Going to court means coming up with the best child support orders for your child at that moment in time. However, times change. Your life may look substantially different now than it did five or six years ago. When your child support orders of yesterday do not match up with your life of today, what can you do?                 

The best interests of your child matter. That much doesn’t change. Considering the best interests of your child makes the most sense for your family. It is what a judge considers. Changing your court orders when they do not serve the best interests of your child is wise. However, the discussion does not end there.                 

Next, updating or changing child support orders means determining whether a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred. This is a major change in your life, that of your co-parent or child. Your child falling ill would probably count. You falling ill would probably count. Your co-parent landing a new job that pays him better would probably count.                 

Filing a modification case means allowing a judge to consider your petition. Negotiating with your co-parent means determining what middle ground, if any, exists between you two. Hiring an experienced attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan helps your cause.                 

What happens when your co-parent stops paying child support?               

This happens from time to time. Your co-parent stops paying child support and leaves you in a lurch. You need that money to pay for essentials related to your child. When that money stops coming in it puts you in a pickle. What should you do?              

Filing an enforcement case would be one option. An enforcement petition asserts your co-parent violated the court order. Specifying the exact nature of the violations is necessary in this lawsuit. Having evidence sufficient to support that contention is necessary, as well. You and your attorney will submit evidence attempting to prove these violations.                 

Relief in a child support enforcement case looks like contempt of court, fines, and even jail time for a non-paying parent. Serious business. Make sure your child support payments go through on time and in full. You are responsible for these payments, not the Office of the Attorney General.               

Final thoughts on child support               

Paying and receiving child support is a common occurrence in a family law case. However, feeling confident about the process does not come easy. With that said, gaining confidence means acquiring knowledge. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan possess the knowledge you need. Making wise decisions is part of gaining knowledge, as well. Thank you for joining us today here on our blog.              

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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