A Texas child support case always involves the intersection of child support and child custody. To understand much of anything regarding child support, we must also discuss the subject of child custody. Even in the title of today's blog post, we have used a term that references the realities of child custody. A noncustodial parent is a parent who does not have primary custody of a child. In most circumstances, if you are the noncustodial parent of a child, then you will also be responsible for paying child support. This is the first lesson we must learn about child custody to understand child support better.
In a child custody case, whether as a freestanding case or as part of a divorce case, being named as the primary conservator or custodial parent of a child is a critical designation. It is so essential because not only does a custodial parent get more time with the child, but they will also have more rights, including the right to receive child support payments. If you are named a noncustodial parent because of a child custody case, you will need to learn the ins and outs of child support. Your failure to do so may substantially impact the life of your child and can put you in hot water with your co-parent and the legal system.
With that said, in today's blog post, we're going to focus on what it means to pay child support and what it means to pay child support. Notably, I am most interested in subject matter related to what Being a noncustodial parent means for child support-related material. While being able to rely upon child support is no picnic in and of itself, it is less of a responsibility than you are the parent who must pay child support. As such, let's spend some time today thinking about what a noncustodial parent needs to know about child support in Texas.
What exactly is a noncustodial parent?
If you are the noncustodial parent to a child, you are the parent who does not have primary custody of your son or daughter. While you may not be able to spend as much time with your child as you would like, this does not mean that you have no rights to your child at all. Instead, the rights you have are still substantial and essential in raising your child. As such, I think blog posts like this where you can learn more about your rights and duties about your child are very important.
If you are the noncustodial parent to your child, then your co-parent is the custodial parent or managing conservator. They have the right to determine where your child lives primarily. This is the crucial right that unlocks many of the other rights of your child. The ability to determine where your child lives on a primary basis is known in many places as custody. You have the right to have your child at various times that you do not have control as it is commonly known. Possession is also known as access in visitation rights.
The old wives' tale, no pun intended, that makes the rounds from time to time is that only mothers can be the primary conservator of a child. The thought is that fathers are either legally barred outright from becoming a primary conservator, or judges are openly hostile to being named as such. The reality of the situation is that this is not true at all. Men have just as much a right to these types of conservatorships rights as women. With that said, most noncustodial parents are fathers, and as a result, much of the information in today's blog post will be geared towards men and fathers. However, make no mistake that noncustodial parents can be and often are women and mothers.
What to do give me event at you receive a court summons.
One of the most disheartening and intimidating things a parent can receive is a summons to attend a court hearing. You may be living your life as best you can comply with child support laws; I want to find that you have been asked to attend a court hearing. Looking through the material provided, you may learn that the summons is regarding child support. Even if you are not clear on what this is regarding or think you have done nothing wrong, you still need to make plans to attend this hearing.
One of the tricky parts about being a parent is that once you avail yourself of the family court system, the more likely it is that you will see yourself back in court. This can be frustrating, but it is the reality of your circumstances. Even if you have believed to this point that you have done nothing wrong in our current on child support, you still need to attend a hearing. In certain circumstances, if you do not follow the court hearing, decisions regarding child support and your child can be made without your input. This means possible increases to child support, penalties over nonpayment, and things of this nature. Therefore, even if you are not clear regarding why you are to go to court, you should do so anyway.
At this stage, I will mention that it is essential for you to hire an experienced family law attorney if you do not understand precisely why you have been asked to go to court in the first place. An attorney with experience in Texas family law can help you too plan the next steps in your case and ensure that you are not making a mistake in any regard. For a free-of-charge consultation with an experienced Texas family law attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys can offer you a free of charge consultation here in our Office, over the phone, or via video.
Suppose you are not married to the mother of your child. In that case, the first step that you may need to investigate when it comes to child support is to establish paternity in yourself—signing a legal document known as in acknowledgment of paternity while at the hospital or even soon after your son or daughter is born is probably the simplest way to do this. You may also establish paternity in you Either by filing a petition or contacting the attorney general's Office and asking them to do so on your behalf. The attorney general does not represent you in any potential child custody or child support case, but they can assist in getting a lawsuit filed to do so. Please note that simply having your name on your child's birth certificate does not in and of itself establish the legal relationship between you and the child. Therefore, this needs to be done legally. You cannot be granted any conservatorships rights to a child, including the right to pay child support until you are legally determined to be the father to that child.
On the other hand, if you are not the biological father to a child and do not wish to be designated as such, you should file a denial of paternity with the state of Texas as soon as you come to be aware that a child was born where you may be accuser being that child biological parent. This could happen if your spouse were to have an affair during your marriage or even if you and the child's mother were not married. Either way, if you are summoned to court, you need to attend, given that the court can establish paternity and child support obligations to you if you fail to follow.
What does it mean to sign paperwork having to do with child support?
This could be a lesson for either custodial or noncustodial parents. Still, I feel like it matters more to noncustodial parents, given that you are the ones who are in line to pay money rather than to receive it. You've probably heard the advice before to read the fine print before signing something. Even if a lawyer, judge, or representative from the Office of the Attorney General tells you that something is ok to sign, you should not do so until you have read through it yourself and have had the opportunity to ask questions.
Sometimes the Office of the Attorney General's lawyer will act impatient if you attend child support court and can even give you the impression that a "deal" is time-sensitive and requires you to make quick and hasty decisions. Do not let them influence you. It is better to walk away and leave the situation up to a judge rather than sign a document you have not examined thoroughly. Therefore, you must read through documents before you sign them. There is no guarantee that you can modify or change these orders in the future.
Establishing child support can help you in other areas.
I realized that signing up to pay child support does not sound like a great deal of fun, but the reality is that by signing up to page child support, you can have other rights established for you about your child. Visitation and conservatorships rights will be a part of The Child Support case. It would not happen that only child support would be ordered and no other rights or duties. For this reason, you should certainly choose to make yourself available before a Family court. This is true even if your summons for the court tells you to go to a specific child support court.
Even if you do not have an attorney, it is still an excellent decision to appear before the court. When it comes to child support court, you may be able to negotiate child support in other subjects with your co-parent and not have to go before a judge for a hearing at all. The attorney general's lawyer could help facilitate an agreement without going to a hearing. This would be to your advantage in many ways, especially if you are nervous about having to talk to a judge. Above all else, it is wise to attend court for no other reason than to ensure that you have a say in the Child Support that you will be paying. At the same time, if you would like to remove the case to a family court out of child support court, you can discuss that possibility with the judge or with the lawyer from the Office of the attorney general.
DNA testing can be provided to you in child support court
if you are not clear about the father of a child, you can receive free DNA testing at child support or family court. If you have any doubts about the paternity of a child, you should not acknowledge paternity or agree to pay child support in writing before a DNA test. These tests will go a long way to help give clarity in a situation where you may have questions about whether you should acknowledge paternity or be willing to contribute to this child's life. Before you make a rash decision, it is wise to consider a DNA test and how that could be to your advantage.
Come to court with documentation regarding your income.
If you are attending a child support hearing and expect you to be ordered to pay support, you should come with information and documentation about your pay. Do not expect the court to take you at your word regarding your income. Pay stubs, tax returns, and any other types of documentation about your pay Or what you should plan to bring to court. Remember that child support is typically based on the Texas family code guidelines outlined. With that said, you can help yourself a great deal by verifying your income on behalf of the court.
Do not miss child support payments if you can help it.
Even if you know that you will miss a child support payment for one month, you should still pay as much as possible. Even paying half of the Child Support that you are ordered to pay can go a long way towards keeping you out of court on an enforcement case. An enforcement case can be found against you if you violate the Child Support orders. However, it can cost you time and money if you do that. However, if you agreed to pay child support in portions over time, you may be able to work with your co-parent outside of court and avoid having to go back to see the judge.
This type of thing can occur if you lose your job and do not have money saved to pay child support. When you are in-between positions, you probably will be worrying more about paying your bills. In that case, you should contact your Co-parent as soon as possible to discuss with her the situation with your income and how it will likely impact your ability to pay child support. This way, she can be aware of the circumstances confronting you and may even be willing to work with you on a payment plan. While this may not be a long-term solution to your problem, it can help you in the short term to avoid a situation where You are forced to go to court on a child support case.
Suppose you find yourself in a position where you need to formally reduce the amount of child support you pay each month; it is best to file a modification petition with the court that issued the order. This way, you can present evidence of why material and substantial change has occurred in your life regarding your income. The judge will have a chance to reassess your circumstances and determine whether a reduction in child support is in the best interest of your children. In that case, you can move forward understanding that you have done everything you can when it comes to reducing child support formally.
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 an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family circumstances could be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.