Divorce or the custody process can be much more painful or confusing when you don’t know the laws surrounding them. One issue that comes up in these trying situations is child support.
The parties involved in a child support case want to know crucial information regarding Texas laws, like who will be obligated to pay, how much they will need to pay every month, what they can do if a party isn’t paying, and much more. Thankfully, with some clarifying information, they can feel secure that they know all the facts and have an attorney on their side should they need additional help and guidance.
Here are some crucial facts on child support in Texas, as well as where to turn if you’re going through the process and wish to seek out legal support.
What Is Child Support?
The first place to start is to learn exactly what child support is and what it entails. Simply put, child support is a payment that goes towards the needs of the child or the children in a particular case. Historically, the non-custodial parent makes a monthly or even biweekly payment to the custodial parent for the benefit of the children in the case. Typically, this is after the parties’ relationship has ended. In some cases, the custodial parent may have to pay child support. That’s why it’s easier to say “obligor” and “obligee” when referring to child support – the former pays the support, and the latter receives it. It ultimately depends on the specific facts of each case.
Every state has child support laws designed to protect children and ensure that families, hopefully, do not have to rely on government-run programs to support the child or children. Government programs such as welfare and food stamps in order to pay for their children’s basic needs.
Child support is normally a monthly payment, and every state sets different guidelines as to how they determine the amounts of said payments. In general, states will look at how many children are involved, how much money a child requires for basic needs, what kind of support a child needs (for example, a disabled child will need more money for medical care), how much the parents earn and how much time a child spends with each parent. Usually, child support ends when the child turns 18, but again, it depends on the state laws and the specific circumstances.
Determining Child Support in Texas
The statutes in Texas that guides child support are in Texas Family Code Section 154. Under this section, the child support guidelines state that amounts are based off of a percentage of the monthly net resources of the obligor, as well as the number of children the obligor is supporting.
For example, one child will be 20% of the monthly net resources, two will be 25%, three will be 30% and it keeps going up in 5% increments from there. If there are six or more children involved, then the amount cannot be less than the amount for five kids.
The percentages are capped if the obligor’s net resources are $9,200.00 per month. Now, keep in mind that the court may decide a non-standard amount, but there needs to be facts to support why there is a deviation beyond the guidelines. Such as a child’s pre-existing disability which would require additional support for the benefit of the child. Having these standard guidelines helps you understand a ballpark range of how much you’re possibly going to pay or receive.
To come up with the number for monthly net resources, the court will take into account the obligor’s gross salary and any other income they receive, such as retirement, social security, unemployment, pension, earnings from investments and severance pay. The court will then take out state and federal income taxes, children’s health insurance costs and dues that must be paid to a union.
In Texas, the obligor typically must pay until the child turns 18, but the obligation may be extended beyond 18 if the child is still in high school past age 18 or if the child has disabilities. If an obligor stops paying, they run the risk of an obligee taking them to court to enforce the child support order.
To figure out roughly what you may pay in child support, simply use the Child Support Calculator link on the Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC resources page here.
Changing a Child Support Order
There are situations where an obligor or the obligee can request the court to modify a child support order if there has been a material and substantial change of circumstances.
For example, maybe the obligor loses their job. Perhaps custody changed, and the obligor is now the primary custodial parent. Also, if an obligor is avoiding employment in order to not pay child support, or isn’t disclosing one of their sources of income, these may be grounds for the obligee to seek the court’s intervention.
An obligor who is not paying the obligated child support faces additional legal repercussions. They might lose their driver’s, professional, hunting and fishing licenses, have their lottery earnings intercepted, be denied for a new or renewed passport, have their non-payments reported to credit bureaus or even go to jail.
Getting Started with Child Support
Before going to court, you can always find answers to your Texas child support questions on the Texas Office of the Attorney General Child Support Division’s page. If you want personalized help because you have additional questions or you’re in a complicated situation, you can reach out to the team here at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC.
Our experienced child support attorneys at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC are available to consult with you if you are considering filing for child support, you’re paying it or you’re in the process of working it out with the court. We can provide valuable insight to the complex nature of these cases and our initial consultation is always beneficial to our clients when facing these types of situations. You can learn more about our child support representation here, or contact our office now to schedule a confidential consultation.