Determining child support may be a significant component of divorce proceedings. However, child support obligations also belong to parents who were never married. In Texas, child support payments are typically determined using the child support guidelines in the Family Code (i.e., the “guidelines support”). The weighing factors include the income, number of children and the particular needs of the children at issue. Under Texas law, physical custody determines which party will pay child support. In the vast majority of cases, the non-custodial parent pays child support. In general terms, the party required to pay child support pays 20% of his or her net income for one child, 25% for two children, and it goes up 5% for each additional child. Also, a child support withholding order will be issued for one of the parties. The wages will be ordered withheld from one of the party’s paychecks and can be direct deposited into the other party’s bank account. In any circumstance, our Houston child custody lawyers are fully prepared to fight on you and your child’s behalf.
Any time a parent’s financial situation changes, a modification to child support may be necessary. Texas courts will consider modifications if: (i) either parent has a job loss; (ii) either parent changes jobs; (iii) the financial needs of a child changes; (iv) any of the children at issue turn 18 years of age or completes high school, whichever is longer. Child support is paid as long as the minor child is under 18 or still in high school, whichever is longer. If the child dies, gets married, joins the armed forces, or begins to live on his or her own as an emancipated minor, child support is no longer payable. A modification will not be granted if a parent stops working voluntarily.
If a child’s provable needs are more than can be met by the guideline support, the child may be entitled to receive more than the guideline support. Examples of situations that might result in provable needs being greater than guideline support are special healthcare or educational needs.
If the parent obligated to make child support payments fails to pay, the other parent has two options: (1) he or she can contact the attorney who handled his/her case and ask them to sue the non-paying party for enforcement. This is the most expeditious way to enforce a child support order, but there may be significant legal fees and court costs; or (2) he or she can contact the Office of the Attorney General Child Support Unit and ask them to enforce the order. They will do so at no cost, however, the process can be extremely slow and frustrating.
On its face, the payment of child support seems rather simple under Texas law. The guidelines set up by the state legislature are intended to avoid needless court battles. That said, the payment of child support involves judgments about relative earning capacities, the eligibility of a child for more support, whether the initial judgment of support can be modified and many more. If you are a party in a case and are in need of a Houston child support lawyer, Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC can assist you in determining the full extent of your rights and obligations.