Child support is court-ordered monthly payments to cover the living expenses of your children as a result of a divorce or other suit affecting the parent-child relationship. It is not a form of alimony or spousal support. The family court cannot use child support as a way to hide spousal support. It is not punishment for the obligated parent for his or her prior actions. In Texas, child support obligations are determined by a formula based on the income and expenses of the parent obligated to pay although the family court judge can change the amount when the needs of the child merit it. Either the mother or father can be required to pay to a parent awarded conservatorship. Child support is often paid through income withholding although some people pay through other means. It is recommended that you work with a child support attorney like Adam Kielich to help you with your child support obligation.
How child support is calculated in Texas
Under the Texas Family Code, the court will look at the gross monthly income of the parent to pay child support and deduct certain expenses to determine the parent’s net income. The sources of income and expenses deducted are defined in the Family Code. The parent will pay a portion of his or her net income based upon how many children the parent is supporting.
One child: 20% of net income
Two children: 25% of net income
Three children: 30% of net income
Four children: 35% of net income
Five children or more: 40% of net income
If the parent has children other than those covered by this child support obligation the percentages are reduced slightly.
The court can adjust the amount of support based on other factors, such as the intentional underemployment of the parent to avoid the obligation, the special needs of the child, reasonable special expenses (such as education). The guideline amount is considered the minimum amount that the parent could pay from his or her income to provide for the basic needs of the child so the court will not increase the amount of support merely because the parent with primary conservatorship has a higher standard of living or would like to spend more money on the children.
Child support enforcement
Child support is a court-ordered obligation. It carries the enforcement powers of the court, including ordering employers and financial institutions to release funds or garnish wages to satisfy child support, criminal sanctions for failure to pay and the ability to carry the obligation to other states for judicial enforcement in other parts of the country. Although the most common method of enforcement is to garnish wages it is not always the most effective way to make sure the parent is providing the required support to your children. The Kielich Law Firm can help you construct an effective plan to make sure your children receive the support they are entitled to by law.
Child support modification
Child support obligations are fixed by court order but the family courts have the power to modify the amount based upon changed conditions. Child support orders are commonly modified when the obligated parent has a change in employment that results in an increase or decrease in income that would justify changing the amount of support paid each month. Other changes in life conditions of the obligated parent can justify increasing or decreasing support. Either parent can request the family court to modify the child support obligation and my firm can assist you in obtaining a child support modification.
Visitation and child support
Child support is generally ordered at the same time a family court establishes visitation or conservatorship orders, whether that occurs during a divorce, a paternity suit, or a separate suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR). However, payment of child support is not tied to visitation rights. Even if the obligated parent fails to pay child support, he or she keeps the same visitation rights. The custodial parent cannot deny visitation or keep the other parent from contacting the children because child support is not paid.
Child Support and Child Health Care
In addition to the standard obligation, the court will also require that the child’s health care is provided. This often means the parent without primary custody will have to furnish health insurance or repay the parent with primary custody for the cost of health insurance. For expenses above and beyond what insurance covers, the parents are typically ordered to split the additional costs although the family court can chose to assign responsibility for these additional expenses in a different manner.