How do you get Child Support in Texas?

One of the most highly contentious subjects in all of Texas family law is that of child support. Child support involves one parent contributing to the financial well-being of their child. This is typically done in connection with a family law case. For many families, child support tends to be a topic that results in a great deal of animosity and strife. Make no mistake, families that go through issues with Texas child support tend to find themselves asking questions about the well-being of their family. How can we maximize the process of paying child support to benefit our children?

That is the difficulty here. Parents want to do what is best for their children. However, not all parents agree on what serves their children best. For many parents, contributing to the financial well-being of their children is not straightforward. Parents sometimes have relationships with one another that make interactions difficult. For these parents, paying child support is not as straightforward as you would believe. In situations where the payment of child support is that issue, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are here to help.

Details on Texas child support

Child support payments in Texas are money paid from one parent to another to help with the costs of raising a child. Most of us are familiar with the concept of child support. We hear about child support in television, movies, and popular culture. However, the details of child support end up looking different than what movies and television tell us. These details are important when you consider that many children require the assistance of child support to survive. For them, child support is not optional. It is essential to their well-being.

As a result, as a parent, you must understand what child support is and how it impacts your child. Areas of your child’s life like housing, clothing, daycare, and food are potentially covered under child support. When it comes to subjects like these you do not want to leave it to chance that your child is cared for. Rather, working with your co-parent is the best way to ensure the success of your child both now and in the future.

Once a judge signs a child support order that parent is obligated to pay a specific amount of child support each month. These payments are made regardless of the financial situation of the parent. This means that there likely are no excuses in your court order for the non-payment of child support. Having a plan for the payment of child support matters a great deal. Understanding with your co-parent how the child support paid impacts the life of your child goes a long way toward helping your child achieve success.

Back child support

Another term that you are likely aware of is back child support. Back child support refers to past-due child support. When you owe past due child support that means you failed to pay child support either on time or in full in a particular month. As a result, you are now obligated to pay that child support to your co-parent. That past due child support may be owed along with interest and penalties. Work with your family law attorney to confirm the amount of child support you owe, if any.

It can be confusing at times when it comes to the payment of child support. Many families struggle with understanding their court orders. This may be because the court order is poorly written or complicated. Or it simply may be that you or your co-parent have not spent the time necessary to review the language of your order. Whatever your circumstances are you must pay close attention to what your obligations are. Both parents have an obligation when it comes to child support. This is true even if you are the parent who receives child support. Taking seriously your responsibilities when it comes to child support is a big part of ensuring the success of your child.

Do you have questions about your obligations when it comes to paying child support? If so, please consider contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys take seriously the responsibility of caring for our clients. We put your best interests first and advocate strongly both inside and outside the courtroom. To learn more about our office and for a free of charge consultation please contact us today.

Looking at your custody orders

Understanding your child custody orders is the key to understanding child support. Most typically, child support terminology centers around custodial versus non-custodial parents. A custodial parent is a parent with whom the children reside primarily. As a custodial parent, you have the responsibility of caring for your children most of the time. Your children live with you, and you make decisions for their day-to-day lives. Along with this responsibility, you also have the responsibility of paying for the day-to-day needs of your child.

On the other hand, a non-custodial is the parent whom the children see for periods of visitation. If you are the non-custodial parent then you likely have weekend visitation with your child. Weekend visitation, shared holidays, and extended periods of visitation in the summer are hallmarks of non-custodial visitation periods. Part of being a non-custodial parent means understanding your responsibilities when it comes to paying child support. There are very few circumstances where a non-custodial parent is not responsible for paying child support.

Being able to have a civil and cordial relationship with your co-parent is essential when it comes to maximizing your time as a mom or dad. By maintaining a certain sense of civility, you are ensuring that you and your co-parent can work through any difficulties you experience on a day-to-day basis with one another. This does not mean that you and your co-parent have to be best friends. However, it does mean that the better you both can get along with one another the easier their coparenting relationship tends to be. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan help our clients maximize their relationship with their co-parents.

How is child support ordered?

There are several different ways to have child support ordered. Most of the time, child support is ordered as a part of a family law case. For example, when you go through a divorce with minor children child support is ordered. Important questions regarding conservatorship and custody are answered within that divorce case. 

In a child custody case, child support may also be ordered. For families like yours, paternity must first be established. There is no presumption of paternity for unmarried parents. On a practical level, if you are a mother seeking child support you must first establish paternity. Even if you know that a particular man is your child’s biological father that does not necessarily make him the automatic, legal father to your child. You may first need to take steps to establish paternity before child support is established.

Finally, there are child support cases that are filed independently of any other type of Texas family law case. These cases are typically initiated by the office of the attorney general. The office of the attorney general seeks to ensure that child support is paid properly. Within these cases, issues like visitation, conservatorship, and possession are also established. However, the office of the attorney general initially seeks to help you and your co-parent negotiate child support.

When does the obligation to pay child support come to an end?

As with all things in life, the obligation to pay child support eventually comes to an end probably. For the most part, child support lasts until your child turns 18 years of age or graduates from high school. The key to this reality is that the obligation to pay child support comes to an end at the latter of these two events. This means that whichever of these happens later is the event that triggers the end of child support. Of all the realities to bear in mind regarding child support, this is one of the most important.

We at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan say this from a position of experience. We have represented multiple parents on both sides of the child support equation who have had issues with child support coming to an end. In some situations, we have represented a parent whose child support stopped coming in because they are co-parents believed the obligation ended on either the 18th birthday or the high school graduation. That parent was shocked to find out that it was the latter of the two dates and not merely the first of the two.

On the other hand, our office has also had the opportunity to represent clients who mistakenly stopped paying child support because they thought their obligation had ended. This is one of the more stressful parts of the child support circumstances. Understanding your obligation to pay child support means understanding when that obligation comes to an end. Reading through your court orders and being familiar with them is a basic responsibility that you have. This is no matter what your opinions on child support may be.

When child support may continue past high school

Notice that we said just a moment ago that the obligation to pay child support eventually comes to an end. However, we qualified that statement with a “maybe” being inserted at the last moment. Most parents who pay child support will find that their obligation to do so ends on the 18th birthday of their child or upon their high school graduation. However, not all parents find themselves in this situation.

For example, if your child suffers from a disability then it is reasonable to expect that your child support obligation continues past their high school ages and on into adulthood. The reason for this is obvious. Children with disabilities or impairments would struggle to be able to care for themselves immediately after high school. As a result, child support is often ordered to assist a co-parent in caring for that child.

It could be that the amount of child support you must pay decreases over time. Perhaps your child is not able to go to college but can work and earn an income after graduation. In that case, that income may offset a portion of the child support you had been paying. As with many subjects in the world of Texas family law, the facts and circumstances of your case matter a great deal. You need to work with your co-parent to determine what amount of child support is equitable given the circumstances.

The calculation of child support

Texas has a guideline amount of child support which is outlined in our Family Code. This guideline level of support reflects the belief that the Texas Legislature has in the best interests of your child. Namely, and all else fails a court may order child support based upon this guideline amount. However, an important concept to keep in mind is that you and your co-parent are in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiating on this subject. The two of you do not have to go by the guideline levels of support unless you are unable to negotiate child support in a more specific way.

Under the guideline levels of support, your net monthly income is calculated. Net monthly income consists of your employment income like salary, wages, tips, and bonuses. For most of us, our net resources are mostly comprised of income. Investment income, side jobs, retirement benefits, and most benefits from the Social Security Administration count as net monthly income.

Once your net monthly income is calculated, it is multiplied by a percentage. That percentage is determined by taking the number of children you have and looking to see what percentage corresponds to that number. For one child, 20% of a parent’s net monthly income is paid in child support. That number increases by 5% per additional child. A parent who has six or more children shall not pay less than 40% of their net monthly income in child support.

Determining child support when there is no income information available

In some situations, a court has difficulty in determining a person’s income. Either the individual is not forthcoming with the information or simply does not have it available. Consider if you work a job where you are paid in cash and simply do not keep a record of your income. Additionally, you do not pay taxes since you are paid in cash. How can a court determine child support in a situation like this?

Other information is substituted so that a court can estimate your income. It is not as if a court will either guess at the number or simply not mandate you to pay child support. An average wage may be taken from your area of the state. Not only our wages considered but the number of job opportunities available to you. Your age, assets, education, and work history are all considered. Professional people who have a history of earning a high income would likely fare differently than a person who has relatively no skills and no job experience.

Guideline levels of support are not mandatory

The presumption in a Texas child support case is that the guideline levels of support are in your child’s best interests. Different factors, however, may mean that your child’s best interests are served by calculating child support in another way. One of the more common reasons why child support may be ordered not according to the guidelines is their age and needs. If your child requires ongoing medical care, then the guideline levels of support probably will not be in their best interests.

Likewise, we see that parents who earn a very high salary typically pay more in child support than a guideline level. Another factor to consider is that a parent who sees their child more than under a standard possession order may pay less in child support. This reflects the reality that apparent that you already shoulder an even amount of costs compared to the custodial parent. As a result, a standard amount of child support would not be appropriate.

Costs associated with traveling to see your child are also considered. For example, if you live across the state and pay for all travel expenses associated with fulfilling your visitation obligation then this would be reflected in the amount of child support you pay. The courts want to ensure that you can see your child, pay your bills and not be in a position where money becomes too tight.

Considering a family law case? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan 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. Before signing a document or negotiating on a subject you do not know well, contact our office. We look forward to the opportunity of serving you during an important part of your life.

Categories: Child Support

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At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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