In divorce or child custody cases, one of the most contentious debated issues is child support. The irony of this is that Contained in the Texas family code is a chart that discusses is the guideline levels of child support which are not necessarily recommended by the state but are a good starting point for most people. Were your case to go all the way to a trial, it is very likely that the judge in your case would assess child support based on these guidelines or at least based on something very close to them.
Before we start talking about how a parent could and child support payments or get out of paying child support, I think it's a good idea for us to 1st discuss what child support is and how it is calculated. The reason why I want to do this is pretty simple: I don't want to assume that you know the basics of child support before we jump into a more complex issue. For that reason, let's spend some time discussing child support and how it's paid.
What is child support in Texas?
When parents live together, it is much simpler to have those parents share the child's responsibilities. Whether or not the parents are married doesn't enter into the equation. Living in the same home as your child other parent makes it a lot easier for you to be able to coordinate who is going to pay what and from what resources our sums of money going to be pulled to pay for things like school clothes, medicine, food and all the other essentials of life. There are checks and balances in place when all the relevant parties are living under the same roof.
However, once parents get into a situation where they're living in separate households due to a divorce or an ending of the nonmarital relationship, we run into a situation where paying for a child's essentials becomes a little more complex. At the very least, you are not able to discuss these costs over dinner every night, and in some cases, you may not even be on speaking terms with your child's other parent. Add to this the disparity in times of possession of your child, and you can easily run into a situation where one parent ends up shouldering more of the burden as far as the costs of raising the child 1 compared to the other parent.
This is where child support comes in. Child support serves two real purposes, as far as I can tell. The first purpose that child support serves is that it puts you and your Child's other parents in a situation where you have skin in the game, so to speak. By this, I mean that you have something committed to raising your child other than good intentions and the income and resources you provide when you are with your child. It is only fair that both you and your child other parents contribute to raising your child. Without child support, everyone would have to trust the other person to provide in a way that is fair for their child's well-being.
The second purpose that child support serves, from the perspective of Texas, is that both parents should be contributing to their child's upbringing. Children benefit from having a relationship with both parents, and child support puts this theory into practice. A mistake does not want the child's primary conservator to bear the burden of paying for the majority of the costs associated with raising the child. As such, the state of Texas Natalie provides guidelines for child support but also assists in collecting child support.
In your divorce or child custody case, one parent will likely be named as your child's primary Conservatory, in the other will be named as the possessory Conservatory, the primary Conservatory; your child has the right to determine your child's primary residence. This means that your child will be living full-time with that parent. The possessory conservator will have Visitation rights to your child on weekends, Holidays on other days that are predetermined in your family court orders.
The possessory conservator pays child support to the primary Conservator. This is because the primary conservator will typically have your child more frequently than the possessory conservator. As such, it will be expected that they will end up paying for more costs associated with raising your child. To help equalize the burdens between you and your child's primary Conservatory, you will be asked to pay child support in your divorce or child custody case.
Finally, I would like to note that child support is determined by taking a percentage and applying that percentage against your net monthly income. The more children you have before the court, the higher that percentage will be. Your net monthly income is determined by removing taxes, benefits, and other things from your paycheck and arriving at the number of dollars each month that you come home with. Multiplying the percentage against your net monthly income gives you your monthly child support obligation.
Depending on how many sources of income you have, the child support calculation can be much more complex than I just laid out for you in the preceding paragraph. However, most of us have fairly straightforward income situations in our homes, and this general rule of thumb that we just discussed applies well for those types of families. If you have specific questions about your calculation of child support, then I would recommend you contact one of our attorneys to set up a free-of-charge consultation to discuss that matter today.
How is child support going to be paid in your case?
Now that we have a better idea of what child support is in the basis for paying child support, we can discuss how child support will be paid in your case. The vast majority of Texas families where child support is relevant sees child support payments going from the possessory conservator to the primary conservator through the office of the attorney general's child support division.
The Texas office of the attorney general administers child support payments on behalf of parents who have gone through family law cases. As a part of your divorce or child custody case, a wage withholding order will be submitted to the judge for their signature once a manner of child support has been ordered or agreed upon. Every month, your employer will withhold a certain percentage of your paycheck from having child support paid.
That child support payment will be sent to the office indeed attorney general and then to your child's primary conservator. The attorney general will keep a record of payments requested and received so that both you and your Co-parent can refer back to it if there are discrepancies or problems with payments in the future. This allows you to focus on other things and not have to constantly keep track of the payments that have been made in which payments are still to come.
It is up to you to ensure that child support payments are made on time and in full. For instance, if you change jobs, your new employer does not necessarily know that you have to pay child support each month unless you inform them. Therefore, you may need to contact the court from your divorce or child custody case and tell them if your wage withholding order needs to be resubmitted to a new employer and how to go about that process. Either way, nobody but yourself is responsible for making sure child support payments are made on time and in full.
A question that I will receive with some regularity associated with child support is: why can't a possessory Conservatory make payments directly to the primary Conservatory? You may have this question, as well. As someone who likes to remove red tape and bureaucracy as much as possible, this is a question that appeals to me as well were I to be in a position where I would have to pay child support. Should we involve the government or anyone else in the payment for child support that could easily go between myself and my child's mother?
There are some pretty straightforward reasons why I believe going the extra mile and making your payments through the attorney general's office is wise. First of all, it protects you as the parent who will be paying child support. Keep in mind that if you make informal child support payments directly to your ex-spouse or Co-parent, these payments do not technically count towards your child support obligation. They do not register with the office of the attorney general, and you are completely relying upon your child's other parent to honor their word and to accept these payments from you directly rather than through the office of the attorney general.
If something were to happen, and your ex-spouse was to suddenly demand child support payments from you that were already made directly to her, you would be left in a situation where you would be relying upon your notations and recordkeeping to prove that these child support payments had been made successfully. You would be like a trapeze artist performing tricks at the circus without a net below you. The office of the attorney general's method of paying child support allows you to perform your act with the safety net.
Next, it also puts you in a position where you have concrete knowledge of your responsibilities when it comes to paying child support. Recall in your pre-divorce or child custody days where your child's mother may have been able to ask you periodically for child support every month depending on what she estimates that month's cost to before your child. From month to month, this amount could change dramatically in some cases. You were left with having to negotiate on amounts with her, and you were never sure what would be owed every month.
Having a court order in place and having payments go through the office would be turning general takes this responsibility out of both of your hands. Instead of being susceptible to having to pay steadily increasing amounts of support for your child, you can have Peace of Mind knowing that not only is the amount of child support set, but the method by which payments are made is set as well. If you have had problems in the past with getting child support agreed to and then received by your child's other parent, then this method should be music to your ears.
How child support payments can come to an end
Today, we have spent a great deal of time discussing what child support payments are and how to get them started in Texas. I want to close out today's blog posts by discussing what sort of circumstances may arise in your life or in that of your children that could see your child support obligation come to an end. It's not as if you don't like to support your children financially. You have dutifully paid child support as required for many years. However, you would prefer to make those payments directly to your child rather than have them go through your Co-parent. The question remains: in what circumstances are you able to cancel your child support obligation?
The obligation to pay child support typically ends when your child turns 18 or graduates from high school
whichever occurs later, your child graduates from high school or turning 18, is when the obligation to pay child support for that child ends. For most families, this is the most typical reason why The Child Support obligation of a parent like yourself is canceled. By reaching adulthood, your child can legally make decisions for him or herself and your conservatorships rights and duties and ask that child. We all know that the obligation and duties associated with parenting do not always stop at 18, but this is the number that the law provides as the latest appearance must provide the essentials of life for that child.
Once your child reaches either of these milestones, you would need to file a petition to terminate child support withholding in the same court that your divorce or child custody came from. You would provide evidence that your child had either turned 18 or graduated from high school. At that point, a judge would sign an order terminating your child support obligation that would be sent to the Texas attorney general's office. A correspondence would then be sent to your employer that no longer obligates them to withhold money to pay for child support each month.
There are other circumstances in which your obligation to pay child support can come to an end that does not involve your child aging out of the process. For instance, your child can apply to become an emancipated individual, which means that they would become financially independent and supportive of themself irrespective of any money from you. This could occur if your child left home and lived elsewhere, married, or join the military before high school graduation. In this case, your child support obligation would end, and he would follow the procedure outlined above to end the obligation with the court and your employer.
On the flip side, your duty and obligation to pay child support can be extended past your child's 18th birthday or graduation from high school. I am thinking about circumstances in which your child has special needs, mental or physical, that require ongoing support past the age of majority. Typically an arrangement would have been made in your divorce or child custody case for ongoing support to be made by you after high school graduation or the 18th birthday of your child.
However, it could be that something was to happen in the intervening years after your divorce and your child's 18th birthday. In that case, your ex-spouse could file A modification petition with the family court to modify the child support orders to require additional years of child support. Hopefully, this last point is not relevant in your life, but I did want to discuss it as we closed out today's topic.
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 the services that our law office can provide to you and your family as clients.