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Understanding the basics of Child Support in Texas

The amount of time that you are in possession of your child after a divorce determines whether or not you will be responsible for paying or receiving child support. Should you be named the primary conservator of your child this means that you have the right to determine the primary residence of him or her.

With this right your child will live with you and by default give to your ex-spouse visitationrights. Your ex-spouse will become a possessory conservator who will have the right and responsibility to pay child support to you.

The reason you will be receiving child support is that by virtue of the fact that your child will be in your possession more often than your spouse, you will shoulder more of the financial burden of caring for your child on a day to day basis. For child support purposes you are known as the custodial parent and your ex-spouse will become the noncustodial parent.

How is child support calculated?

The amount of child support that your ex-spouse would pay you in our above example is based on a percentage of their net monthly income.

The Texas Family Code contains guidelines for child support that will allow you and your ex-spouse to calculate just how much will be owed to you on a monthly basis. Keep in mind that it will need to be determined what exactly your ex-spouse’s net monthly income is so that you have an accurate number, to begin with.

Income in Texas for a noncustodial parent means all salary, wages, commissions, bonuses, tips, and overtime earned. Unemployment payments count for income purposes as well as social security benefits and worker’s compensation awards.

If your ex-spouse received a home from an inheritance income can be imputed from this source even if the home is not generating any income. A judge could argue that if your particular circumstances merit such as finding, that the home could be sold and the funds utilized to pay child support. This is not common, but it can happen in our state.

Underemployment or Unemployment- how do these issues factor into paying child support?

In some situations, parents will under-employ themselves purposefully in order to pay less in child support. I have seen mothers and fathers step back from highly compensated positions at businesses to take lesser positions where they will not be earning as much money.

Especially if a job change occurred recently before a divorce or child support modification case, a judge can look back to see what the parent used to earn and use that income rather than their current income to assign a child support obligation.

Credit received for being financially responsible for children not involved in this court case

It could be that your ex-spouse has responsibility for children that are not yours and are not involved in this particular case. In that type of situation, your ex-spouse would receive credit for these children.

Typically a 2.5% credit is assigned per child, up to a limit of five. For example, if your ex-spouse and you have one child together and your ex-spouse is already paying child support for another child, your child support percentage would decrease from 20% of your ex-spouse’s net monthly income to 17.5%.

What if your ex-spouse chooses to pay more or less than the ordered amount of child support?

Another aspect of child support cases that people often have questions about is whether a parent can decide to pay more or less than the ordered amount on a monthly basis.

The answer to that question is that while a parent can pay more than their ordered amount of support on a monthly basis it is not allowed under the law for that parent to pay less. This means that if you are the parent who receives child support from an ex-spouse it is not in your best interest to agree to allow him or her to underpay you for any period of time. A court must first approve any change in the child support obligation in a case called a Modification.

What if the guideline amount of child support does not work for your family?

The guidelines as set forth in the Texas Family Code are just that- guidelines. They have been made into law because it was determined that they are applicable to a wide range of people, but they do not necessarily work equally well for all persons.

For example, if your child suffers from a disability that requires medical attention around the clock or will require you to stay at home to care for him or her after age 18, the standard amount of child support will likely be insufficient to provide for your child’s proven needs.

If this is the case for you and your child you and your attorney will need to address this issue with the divorce court or if the issue arises subsequent to your initial child support order being introduced a modification suit may need to be filed. You will be able to present evidence of the increased needs of your child in hopes of getting the child support modified. You and your ex-spouse would have an opportunity to settle your case outside of court by negotiating in mediation or on an informal basis. Otherwise, you will both present evidence to a judge to have him or her decide whether or not your circumstances merit an increase in the monthly support level.

Factors that a court will consider when deciding whether to deviate from the guideline levels of support include the age and needs of your child, your financial resources, each parent’s ability to support your child, child care expenses, medical expenses as well as the costs associated with travel to allow your child to see each parent. If your circumstances demand a greater or lesser amount of child support it will likely be due to one of the aforementioned factors.

What are your responsibilities after receiving child support from your ex-spouse?

If you receive child support you have a responsibility to utilize that money for the care and maintenance of your child, whatever the circumstances you find yourself in. For most people, the costs of raising a child are well beyond what the monthly child support figure is.

You can look at the child support check as a way to offset your use of your own income to provide monthly for your child. The law in Texas assumes that you spend this money directly on your child. Your “child support” payments are whatever you end up spending on your child for school supplies, food, rent, etc.

Health Insurance costs and child support

Either you or your ex-spouse will be responsible for providing your child with health insurance. It is presumed under the law that your ex-spouse will provide health insurance if he or she is also providing child support. This is not necessarily how it always turns out, however.

If you are able to provide health insurance more readily or more inexpensively through your employer you could be ordered to do so and your ex-spouse would then be ordered to pay you monthly for the costs of doing so.

Questions about child support in Texas?. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

Having questions about child support is normal, both prior to a divorce and after your divorce has concluded. What you don’t want to do is to act based on an assumption or an incorrectly held belief.

To avoid this situation, I recommend you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC in order to speak to one of our licensed family law attorneys. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week for potential clients. We can discuss your issues as well as the services we can provide you with as a client of ours.


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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Handling a child support case as the non custodial parent, Part Five
  2. How to handle a child support case as the non custodial parent, Part Four
  3. How to handle child support as the non custodial parent, Part Three
  4. Defining a material and substantial change in a child support modification case
  5. How to properly calculate child support in Texas
  6. Is Overtime Pay or Bonus Pay Considered for Texas Child Support?
  7. Child Support in Texas: What is the most you will have to pay and what are the exceptions to that rule?
  8. The Dirty Trick of Quitting Your Job to Avoid Child Support During a Texas Divorce
  9. Can I get child support while my Texas divorce is pending?
  10. Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
  11. Can I Sue My Ex for Retroactive or Back Child Support in Texas?
  12. Child Support and College Tuition in Texas

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Support Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child support, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX child support lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our child support lawyers in HoustonTX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles child support cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.


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