In a Texas family law case, child support is one of the most important topics 4 you to be concerned with. Not only is it a topic that is emotional, since you will be paying a certain sum of money to a co-parent, but the question of how much child support is enough is 1 that comes up in almost every single child custody or divorce case that I've ever worked on. Everyone wants to get this topic right the first time so that the children do not have to suffer or lack what they need and the parents do not have to quibble in the future about changing the amount based on possible changing circumstances. Many parents do not understand the basic elements of child support and only grasp that it is money paid from one of them to the other.
Child support reflects the attitude of the state of Texas that both parents to a child should have the responsibility to provide for them financially. When one parent spends much more time with the child than the other parent does, child support comes into play to even the score to an extent. For instance, if your Co-parent is designated in your family law case as the parent with whom the child will reside primarily, you will likely be named as the parent who is obligated to pay child support. Even though you have Visitation rights and will be spending a fair amount of time with your child throughout the year, child support is intended to make up any difference in the overall responsibility for costs borne by the children.
When it comes to calculating child support, the main thing that you have to keep in mind is that only a percentage of your total income is assessed for child support purposes. Specifically, you are net monthly income what a court would base your child support on. Net monthly income considers your wages, salary, commissions, sales bonuses, some types of investment income, and certain types of disability and unemployment benefits 2 bases a top-line number for child support calculations. From there, expenses incurred during the month in terms of taxes are removed to arrive at a figure representing your net monthly income.
The second number that we need to figure out is how many children you have before the court in this family law case and how many children you are responsible for who is not before the court. Beginning with 20% of your net monthly income for one child and going up to 50% of your net monthly income for six or more children, a percentage of your net monthly income would be withheld to pay child support each month. Likewise, if you are responsible for children under 18 who are not before the court in the current family law case, you will receive credit and a deduction in the percentage owed in child support. Typically, each child not before the court represents a 2.5% reduction in your child support responsibilities.
Once you have figured out your net monthly income and multiplied that against the percentage of children both before the court and not before the court, you can perform some simple multiplication to figure out your child support obligation. That is the amount that will be owed every month to your Co-parent from this point forward. Adjustments to The Child Support obligation will be made as you are children either age out of the Child Support process or if you or your Co-parent request a modification and are granted one in the future. The responsibility to pay child support typically ends when your child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later.
Child support is paid through the office of the attorney general child support division. This means that you do not receive credit for making direct child support payments to your child's Co-parent. Even if you had gotten into the habit or routine of paying child support directly to them during your case or even before your family law case was filed, it is recommended that you not do so once you have child support orders in place. While it may be simpler and less hassle to pay them directly, the reality is that there are many downsides to doing so, not the least of which is that you will not get official credit in a legal sense for making these payments in this manner.
For one, the attorney general's office provides you with an opportunity to keep up with your payments on their website. You will be able to access an account that shows exactly how much child support has been paid to your Co-parent in what amount, if any, you still need to pay. This way, there are no questions about who owes what and on what dates the payments were made. This is great in the future if your parent attempts to argue that you owe them child support. All you need to do is access the attorney general's website and review the table of documents showing what has been paid in child support.
Next, it is nice to be able to go through the attorney general's office because there is less funny business when it comes to paying child support overall. If you have paid child support informally to your Co-parent over the years, then I am sure that you have encountered months where they have asked for more money based on various costs or issues that have come up. While I do not doubt that issues arise in their day-to-day life that costs money, the fact is that you are in a bad position if you have to adjust the amount of child support you pay based on the living conditions of another adult.
Rather, you can pay a consistent amount to them on a defined basis where it is predictable what needs to come out to satisfy your legal obligation for child support. You need to develop a budget and live according to your means after a family law case. This would be difficult if you had no idea how to budget for child support each month. With a consistent amount of child support to be paid, you can gear your budget towards child support payments in line item just like any other expense you encounter.
Child support is typically withheld from your paychecks through something called a wage withholding order. This wage withholding order is completed at the tail end of your child custody or divorce case. The order will specify how much child support is to be paid and on what basis. Once a judge signs it, it will be provided to your employer, which will obligate them to withhold a certain sum of money from your paycheck or paychecks each month. From there, the payments will be sent directly to the Child Support division of the attorney general's office.
These are essential pieces of information when it comes to child support. You don't need to know every single aspect of child support law and every technicality within the law. However, it won't be brilliant for you to agree on child support without knowing the basics. Now that you know how to calculate child support, how it is paid, and how it is paid, we can discuss what child support does not cover for Texas families.
Courts examine the specifics of your life to determine what child support does and does not cover
thus far in today's blog post, we have discussed mainly what the law in Texas holds as far as child support Responsibilities are concerned. Even though the Texas family code contains many statutes about child support, the fact is that a family court judge would consider the specific circumstances of your family to a large extent one determining not only what your child support responsibility will be but what your child support will and will not cover as far as expenses are concerned. This is one of the trickier parts of the child support law. After all, every single family is different because all of your circumstances differ from one another.
As we have discussed, the purpose of child support in Texas is to take into account your child's basic needs on a minimum basis; the end will continue until your child has turned 18 or graduated from high school, whichever occurs later. When we talk about minimal, basic needs, we are referencing things like providing them with a roof over their heads, food to eat, close to where, and things of that nature. When I think about what expenses child support is geared towards, I think mainly about mortgage, insurance, or even utility bills.
Health insurance has not been something that we have discussed so far today. If you pay child support, then you will be responsible for providing health insurance or coverage to your child in some manner. For example, if you have health insurance available to you, you are obligated to put your child on your health insurance. You may decide with your Co-parent to place your child on their health insurance, but you would need to pay the costs that they bear in doing so. If neither of you has any insurance options for your child, then you would need to paid cash medical support that goes back to the state of Texas for your child to be on Medicaid.
Out of pocket medical expenses, deductible costs, and copays can all be factored into your final orders. Many parents agreed to split uninsured medical costs right down the middle while others workout proportions based on their incomes. I was referencing earlier when I mentioned that every family's circumstances are different in their four; you will need to work with your attorney to determine what setup on these subjects works best for you and your child. The bottom line is that you want to ensure that your child receives the medical care they need without interruption or problem.
Paying health insurance and medical costs are not specifically a part of child support, but I wanted to mention them to you in this space because they are important and relate in many ways to paying child support.
What will your child support not cover?
Unless you make special mention of them in your final orders, then activities like vacations, recreation, extracurricular activities, and even college education or private high school education are not considered when coming up with a child support obligation. However, that does not mean that your Co-parent cannot utilize your child support payments to pay for these activities. It does mean that if they choose to use child support to pay for these sorts of costs instead of your child's day-to-day needs, they will not be able to come back to you and ask for additional sums of child support to make up the difference.
While we are on the subject of your Co-parent and their use of your child support, I would mention that there are no restrictions on how they can spend your money. Technically, it is your child's money. Still, since they are a minor, your Co-parent is in the position to legally utilizes the funds for whatever purpose they believe is necessary to most benefit your child. Despite my being asked the question many times, there is no resource available to a parent who pays child support to keep tabs or track how the Child Support money is spent.
Can child support be changed in the future?
As with many areas of a family log, you do have the ability to modify your child support obligation in the future. Depending on the changing circumstances of your family, it may be justified for you all to weigh whether or not a modification is justified. However, a modification will almost surely not be approved by a court in the future just because you want it to be. Rather, specific circumstances and factors must be in play for a court to consider a modification request filed by either parent.
A substantial and material change in your circumstances, the circumstances of your parent, or in the circumstances of your child must have a curd since you are an initial family law case for your modification request to be granted. For instance, if your child were to move in with you on a full-time basis, then not only would you likely need to modify conservatorships orders but also your child support orders. You should have no obligation to pay any future child support under these circumstances, but you may end up owing back child support if you are not current on your payments.
Another common reason child support may need to be modified in One Direction or the other is if your income changes. Whether it is based on a dramatic event like a pandemic or just a fairly run-of-the-mill change of employment, your income may have increased or decreased since the time you were last in court. If your income has increased, your Co-parent may want to contact the court to inquire about an increase in your child support obligation. Inversely, if your income has decreased, then you may be the one who was interested in the modification.
A court would make a decision based on what is in the best interests of your child. For instance, if your child develops a substantial medical need in the years after your family law case, then it is possible or even likely that your child support obligation could increase as a result. This is a reality that you may need to consider for your child. While I would not agree to then increase ahead of time in your child support, you may want to work a possible increase in your child support obligation into your budget each month in the future. This way, you can be prepared if you are ordered to pay more child support as circumstances change.
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 consultation 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 and to see how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a child custody or divorce case.