Whether it's in a divorce or child custody scenario, child support is one of the topics that always draws a great deal of attention in a family law case. The reason for this should be pretty straightforward. In most divorces, the spouse's support is not relevant after the divorce comes to an end. As a result, child support is the major financial tie that remains between two spouses. Even though the money made in child support is intended to benefit the child, ex-spouses often believe that the money is being wasted or spent foolishly by an ex-spouse. This can create a great deal of animosity and frustration at the idea of paying your ex-spouse money.
In a child custody case, the same frustration surrounding child support exists as in a divorce. Still, you also have the added frustration of having to pay this money when you have likely been paying some degree of support to your child's other parent for some time. For instance, I had represented people who had consistently paid their child's mother thousands of dollars per month in child support informally before their child custody case was filed. Even though this is the case, these fathers get no credit for this money having been paid and are often ordered to pay more in child support than they were previously paying. Even if the new child support order is justified under their circumstances in the law, frustration still surrounds this topic.
A calculation determines child support. It is not as if a family court judge looks at you and it looks at your children; a guess is how much they need to get by in any given month. Rather, the Texas family code contains guidelines for paying child support that most cases follow almost exclusively. The number of children you have before the court corresponds to a certain percentage of your net monthly income, which you must pay in support. If you have one child before the court, 20% of net income will be paid in child support. The percentage is increased by increments of five per additional child before the court ending up at a maximum of 50% of your net monthly income going to child support.
Next, we would need to discuss what your net monthly income is. I won't get too far into the weeds today in our discussion, but I can tell you that net monthly income takes the income you earn from your job and subtracts taxes and other expenses to determine how much money you get to walk away from your day job with. If you earn additional sums of money from investments, real estate deals, stocks, and other sources, then they too may have to go into the calculation of your net monthly income. You can refer to the Texas family code, blogs on our website as well as the advice of your attorney regarding this subject.
Once you have determined your net monthly income, you would multiply the income by the percentage that would go towards support to determine how much child support you would owe every month. Keep in mind that the circumstances of your case may dictate that increased support is necessary. This is true for special needs children who have educational, mental, or medical expenses that go above and beyond the typical family. As for parents who earn significantly more than the average family, it would be equitable to pay more in child support every month.
However, for most people reading this blog post, the basic calculation that I laid out previously will apply to your case. From my experience, most parents have to pay somewhere between 1000 and $1500 per month in child support to the other parent. This is based on what I believe is an average salary and an average of two children per family. Your circumstances may find you paying more or less than this average number. Like I said before, this is a subject that you should discuss with your attorney early on in the case. Doing so will allow you to learn more in-depth material about child support. It will help you begin to budget your resources moving forward, given your expected child support contribution.
What if you are not working? Do you still have to pay child support?
This is a pretty common question that I received from clients and potential clients alike. It is an especially relevant question now as we still find ourselves amid a pandemic. Many of you may work in fields where the job market was hit especially hard by the coronavirus and, just as importantly, by the government's response to it. The entertainment field, live events, hospitality, weddings, movies, and oil and gas are just a few areas of the economy where you may have found yourself out of work. They may continue to do so.hIn the event that you have struggled to find consistent income since March of last year, you may have concerns over how you are going to pay your bills and keep your head above water.
That's not even to mention how you would expect to pay child support. The last thing on your mind may be paying money to annex your spouse, but you are concerned about the well-being of your children, as well. Do you think they're doing OK and you are doing what you can to support them while they're in your care but sending over $1000 per month to your ex-spouse is not really in the cards right now? It occurs to you that you may not have to pay child support while you are out of work period after all; how can they expect you to pay child support if you can barely pay your rent?
The reality of the situation is that even if you lose your job and have no income, you still need to pay child support. For instance, if you are just now starting the divorce process and have not had income for months or years, your need to pay child support does not necessarily fly out the window. Rather, a court would assume that your net monthly income is reflective of that of a person earning minimum wage. So, you can do the same calculation we talked about before but insert the minimum wage rather than your hourly wage to determine how much your child support responsibility would be moving forward. This is likely what would happen if no court order were in place already and you were determining child support for the first time in a divorce or child custody case.
On the other hand, if you have already been to court with child support orders in place, the same issue could arise. You may have lost your job due to the pandemic and have been unable to pay child support for many months. It is getting to the point where your ex-wife's patients he is running thin, and she is now beginning to threaten you with a lawsuit or withholding your children from you until you can pay child support. What can you do in this situation to get back on level ground with your support situation while you attempt to look for stable work?
The first thing that I would do is not wait to talk to your ex-wife about your circumstances. After you lose your job, it is completely understandable to feel like the wind has been taken out of your sales. You may have been flying high and feeling good about yourself, and then the pandemic hits, and you lose your job. This is an unbelievably stressful and frustrating situation for you and many people who find themselves in similar circumstances. It would be understandable to want to isolate yourself and feel bad for as long as you could. However, you and your children do not have the luxury of you licking your wounds for too long.
From a practical standpoint, I would begin to look for work as soon as possible. This includes work in your desired field, but it also includes work that allows you to pay your bills and keep your head above water until more permanent and suitable employment opportunities arise. If you are the general manager of a movie theater, you probably should not hold your breath for the time being as far as finding another job like you had before or waiting for your theater to open. While a lot of good news has been on the horizon as far as a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, you cannot afford to stay put for too long.
Finding income in other places does not have to be difficult, but it does require you to be flexible and creative. Taking multiple part-time jobs, for now, to help you pay the bills may be what you have to do to make sure that you do not fall behind in your bills or your child support. Working for a rideshare company, delivering food, groceries, or other items may not sound that appealing to you, but these are jobs that are very plentiful at the moment. It would help if you took advantage of whatever opportunities come to you to ensure that your job loss does not turn into a permanent hindrance to your ability to get on solid footing, financially speaking.
Next, I would get in touch with your ex-spouse as quickly as possible to explain to them your situation. Rather than send a message via text, I would seek to call them on the phone or even meet with them in person. These are serious conversations you are about to have, and I believe you can better communicate the issues at hand in person rather than electronically. There is something about being honest with another person and seeing them face to face that can help you greatly.
The reason why you want to address your ex-spouse in the situation directly is to help potentially avoid a situation where an enforcement lawsuit will be filed against you immediately for failure to pay child support. Ultimately what you will want to work out with them is a payment plan of some sort where you can begin to pay the balance of your support over a longer period. If you are honest and upfront about your situation, you may be surprised to learn just how patient and understanding your ex-spouse may be. Whatever you do, you should not delay in talking with your ex-spouse about your issues paying child support. You are only delaying the inevitable, and you are much more likely to find an upset person if you do not come forward with the information you have about your job as soon as possible.
What happens if you were to go on Social Security disability insurance? Do you have to pay child support then?
In the alternative, you may have been in the midst of a disability application with the Social Security Administration and have now found yourself approved either directly from one of your applications or after having attended a hearing with a Social Security judge. In any event, you have withstood one of the longest processes is to get government benefits that I can think of, and your patients should be commended. The idea of a person receiving disability insurance fraudulently or illegitimately is silly as an attorney who is somewhat familiar with that area of the law. If you have been approved to receive disability insurance through Social Security, you suffer from severe pyramids, whether mental or physical.
This brings us to the next logical question based on the topic of today's blog post. If you receive Social Security disability insurance, do you have to pay child support based on that insurance? We are asking ourselves today whether or not social security disability insurance counts as income for child support payment. The amount of Social Security disability insurance that you receive is based on how much you have earned in your working life in the past. The more you have worked in, the more income you have earned, the more Social Security disability insurance you would be eligible to receive.
If you have applied for and been approved to receive Social Security disability insurance, you can be ordered to pay child support because this insurance is considered income. This is true if you have any outstanding child support due to an ex-spouse or can be applied to any current child support code. When you get your Social Security disability insurance, your children may also be able to get insurance as your dependents. You should apply for independent benefits on behalf of your children. Ann should inquire with Social Security how to do so. Again, how much your children stand to receive and benefits depends on your work history.
A family court in Texas will count your disability insurance benefits that your child gets towards your payment of child support. Therefore, if you are in the middle of a divorce or child custody case, then you must get your children set up with benefits now rather than after your family law case ends. You want to get credit for the support that your children receive directly from the government. You may be in a position where your children's benefit through Social Security may be all that is required under the law. However, you will not get credit for these payments unless the benefits are set up now. Do not wait to set up the benefit until after the family law case is already done.
Getting yourself in a position to receive Social Security disability insurance and have it translated into an accurate amount of child support can be difficult. It is recommended that you have an attorney by your side in both of those situations due to the complex nature of the case in the sheer amount of time it takes for you to get approved for disability insurance. There is no better group of attorneys in Southeast Texas to help you walk through that process than the Law Office of Bryan Fagan when it comes to child support.
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 consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations can go a long way towards helping you learn more about the world of family law in Texas as well as about the circumstances that face your family specifically. I appreciate your interest in our law office, and we hope you will join us again tomorrow on our blog or unique content regarding Texas family law.