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What Can You Do When Your Child Support Is Not Paid on Time in Texas

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: child support is a difficult subject for a family to wrap their arms around. It’s not as if paying money to your co-parent gets easier over time. However, it is especially difficult to manage during a family law case. As the parent paying child support it feels like adding insult to injury. Paying money to your co-parent who already gets to spend more time with the kids. Receiving child support isn’t a picnic, either. You are relying upon your co-parent to pay you money each month. Not exactly a comfortable spot to be in. 

Don’t make assumptions about child support

There are a lot of assumptions that come into play for families during a case involving child support. Did you know that many people assume that child support doesn’t have to be paid at all? Parents could, in this situation, just agree to not have child support. I mean, parents can agree to a lot in a child custody case. Why not this, too? Well, the state of Texas wants both parents to contribute to the material support of their children. As a result, child support must be paid. 

What if your co-parent does not work?

Do unemployed parents not have to pay child support? Paying child support is supposed to be for people with an income, right? A person with no income cannot pay child support. Does the need to pay child support go away when you have no job? No, paying child support is not dependent on having a job. The court would assign your co-parent an income based on what a person who earns minimum wage makes. Even if your co-parent has no income, he cannot get away without paying child support.

What if your co-parent works part-time?

Underemployment works similarly to unemployment. Let’s say that your co-parent figures out that his current job pays him so well he is in line to pay a hefty amount of child support. For no other reason than to be petty, he quits his job. Next, he starts working part-time at a local deli. Making sandwiches isn’t the most thrilling job in the world. However, it prevents him from having to pay you a lot of money in child support. Can he get away with this? No, he cannot. A court would see through this and assign him an amount of child support based on something approaching his former income. 

Is child support the same for everyone?

Not at all. Child support is first based on the best interests of your child. What are your child’s specific needs? Figure this out to determine what sort of child support must be paid here. The more special needs your child has the greater the amount of support that must be paid. There are no two family law cases that are identical. As a result, there are no two child support amounts that are the same based on individual circumstances. 

How do families determine the exact amount of child support to be paid?

There is no set way to determine child support in Texas. So long as your method arrives at a figure that is in the best interests of your child, it is up to you and your co-parent to determine an award for child support. However, there is a guideline amount of child support set up in the Texas Family Code. This guideline is used by courts across the state to set child support when the parties are unable to do so. Or you and your co-parent could settle upon using the guidelines yourselves. 

Explaining the child support guidelines in Texas

The child support guidelines look simple enough but are more complex as you dig into them. First, consider the net monthly income of your co-parent. This is the amount that he takes home from work after taxes, etc. are taken out. The number of children you have is then assigned a percentage. That percentage is multiplied against the net monthly income to determine a monthly child support amount. Remember that the child support figure must also be in the best interests of your child. 

When does child support start being paid?

In most child custody or divorce cases with children, child support is paid as soon as temporary orders are agreed to. During the temporary orders phase of a divorce, an amount of child support is set. This is done to get your family in the rhythm of paying child support. It takes some time to become acclimated to child support. As such, paying and receiving child support begins officially at the temporary orders phase of a case. Informally, however, child support can be paid as early as you and your co-parent would like. 

When does child support stop being paid?

This is a good question, as well. Child support stops being paid whenever your court orders tell you to stop paying child support. For most families in Texas, child support stops being paid when your child turns 18 or graduates from high school- whichever occurs later. Make sure that you understand this distinction. It happens frequently that parents confuse this and stop paying child support too early. This can run you into issues with your co-parent. Some court orders have different stopping points for child support, as well. 

Can child support be paid for adult children?

Child support can be paid for the benefit of adult children. For instance, suppose that your child has a disability that requires him to live with your co-parent. As of now, there is no telling when he will live independently- if ever. In a situation like this, you and your co-parent can agree to child support being paid until your child turns 25, for example. In other cases, you and your co-parent can agree to pay child support even later. Again, think through these issues to make best-interest decisions in favor of your child. 

Paying child support for adult children is an atypical situation, however. Most of the time child support stops around age 18. So, if you are in a situation where your child has a disability or other impairment it is best to huddle with an attorney to find out how to handle the situation. At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we know how to guide clients in a situation like this. Our attorneys have experience in helping clients look through the circumstances of their cases. Contact us today for a free of charge consultation. 

How is child support paid?

Child support is paid through a wage withholding order. That wage withholding order tells your employer how much child support to withhold a certain amount of income each month. It is still your responsibility to make sure child support is paid. Your child support is paid through the Office of the Attorney General Child Support Division. From there, the support is paid to your co-parent. There is a ledger online which tells you how much child support is owed. This way you and your co-parent have a third party to verify paid and received support.

Can you pay child support directly to your co-parent?

You should not pay child support directly to your co-parent. As a parent who has a responsibility to pay child support it is your job to do this on time and in full each month. Sending your payments through the Office of the Attorney General is for the best. However, many parents in your shoes start to think it is ok to pay child support directly to their co-parent. Cut out the middleman. Don’t fall into this trap. These are informal payments of child support which are not reflected in the official ledger on the OAG website. Play it safe and send your payments through the approved channels. 

Does child support count toward health insurance payments?

Your child needs to have health insurance accounted for in the family law case. You can provide the health insurance. Your co-parent could provide the health insurance. Or you can reimburse the State of Texas for maintaining your child on the Medicaid list. In any event, your child must be covered by insurance of some sort. Child support does not count towards health insurance. This is an item which is paid in tandem with child support, however. When your co-parent pays the medical support, you must reimburse her. This means child support and health insurance costs are paid together. 

In split custody situations must child support be paid?

Ordinarily, yes. Child support is ordered in basically every family law case involving minor children. This reflects the idea that the State of Texas wants both parents to be committed to supporting the children financially. Ordinarily, the non-primary conservator of the children has the responsibility to pay child support. This reflects the reality that the parent who has the children is less likely to shoulder a lighter financial burden. As such, expect that you would pay child support in virtually any child support case.

However, remember that child support does not have to be the guideline level of support in the Texas Family Code. You and your co-parent can negotiate an amount of support in line with your child’s best interests and your circumstances. For example, suppose that you and your co-parent split custody. This means each of you has possession of the children approximately 50% of the time. In a situation like this taking the difference in your income and having the higher-earning parent pay child support makes sense from a fairness perspective. 

Do you have children with a special need?  Or do you and your co-parent have special circumstances to consider? These are all issues that impact how child support is ordinarily ordered. Work through these subjects in hopes of arriving at a figure for child support that serves the best interests of everyone. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to learn more about this subject.

What happens when child support is not paid?

Briefly, nothing is automatically done when child support is not paid as it is ordered. This hopefully is not a consistent occurrence in your life but is something that happens from time to time. There are valid reaches for not paying child support/ Your ex-spouse could lose his job. His current employer may have a payroll issue which means your payment of support is delayed. There are understandable reasons for the failure to pay child support. 

However, these are not valid defenses in most cases for not paying support. It is your responsibility to pay child support as the non-primary conservator. When that child support is not paid in full and on time then problems tend to happen. In this situation, you need to know what can happen to you if child support is not paid.

First, consider that your co-parent is not sent an email as soon as their first child support payment is not processed. Rather, the amount of child support needs to amass over time for the consequences to be felt. This is done through the OAG filing an enforcement case or you doing the same. An enforcement case seeks to enforce the terms of a child support order. Briefly, this is what happens when child support is not paid.

Managing missed payments of child support

As we mentioned a moment ago, missed child support payments happen to the best of us. It is not as if most people who miss child support payments do so out of neglect or purposeful bad behavior. Rather, missed child support payments at worst reflect poor planning on your part. On the other hand, it could be that you have missed child support for a good reason. Losing your job is an understandable situation to find yourself when child support is due.

First, when you have lost your job contact the court your order you to pay support. This is a common courtesy type of thing. Informing your co-parent of the reality of your financial situation is both considerate and prudent. She has a right to know what is happening. Communicate this message to her and wait for her response She may be willing to extend grace on you. There are several potential reasons why she does not want you to be held immediately responsible for missing child support. 

Much of the time this is done as a good-faith effort to co-parent more effectively. However, even the most patient people eventually have their patience run out. Sound familiar? Here is how missing child support payments look to you as the parent who receives child support.

Handling unpaid child support as the primary conservator

It is a hard situation to be in when your co-parent does not pay you child support on time each month. Your rent, household bills, and items for your child may go unpaid. This is a tough spot to be in. The first instinct you have may be to extend grace to your co-parent. However, he or she needs to be willing to discuss these issues with you directly. If he is not, perhaps be less willing to extend that grace. Honesty and transparency go a long way in this regard. 

When your co-parent does not extend this transparency to you then it is time to act. First, a letter addressed to him or her should be sent. This is a letter that directly tells them to acknowledge the issue and respond with the reason why child support has not been paid. Theoretically, a payment plan is workable if he or she talks to you. This is a much better situation than having to take additional steps. 

If all else fails, an enforcement lawsuit is the remedy here. Filing an enforcement lawsuit seeks to hold your co-parent responsible for failing to pay child support on time. Look at the evidence on the OAG website. That is what you need to specify in your petition. Add up all the money owed to you. Then ask for relief from the court. Present evidence in a hearing. Receive a decision against the judge. 

Enforcement cases are serious matters

You must be prepared for whatever comes your way in a child support enforcement case. The attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are well-suited to help parents like you. We know what it takes in an enforcement case to be successful. Our