Child support orders can create a lot of problems for both parents. Many problems arise from not considering the long term impact of the order and not acting quickly to ensure compliance. Minor problems easily become major problems. Untangling and resolving these problems under Texas family law is not always as easy. This is a good reason to work with a contested divorce lawyer in Fort Worth from the beginning and contact that attorney as soon as problems arise. Catching potential problems up front or dealing with problems when they first arise can often reduce the cost of child support problems over the long term.
Calculating child support under the Texas Family Code
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 reduce 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.
Typically judges scrutinize application of reducing factors more closely than applying the guideline calculation. Failing to properly present evidence and argument of factors adjusting child support can have serious financial consequences.
Child support enforcement in Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas
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. Visit this page to learn more about child support enforcement services.
Child support modification in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas
Family courts in Dallas and Tarrant County have the power to modify the amount based upon changed conditions. 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 modify child support.
Visitation and child support in Texas
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 because you are behind on child support.
Child Support and Child Health Care in Dallas and Fort Worth
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. For expenses above and beyond what insurance covers, the parents typically split the additional costs. The family court can chose to assign responsibility for these additional expenses in a different manner.