Last Updated on December 8, 2023 by Benson Varghese
Southlake Child Support Lawyer
If you have children and are facing divorce or separation in Southlake, you are probably wondering about child support. Which parent pays it? How much and for how long? What happens if they fail to pay?
In this blog post, the attorneys at Varghese Summersett Family Law group discuss child support in Texas, how it is calculated, the consequences of failing to pay, and the role of a Southlake child support lawyer in navigating these issues.
- Child Support in Texas is a legally mandated financial obligation of both parents to ensure the well-being of their children.
- Southlake child support lawyers provide expert legal advice and representation for establishing, modifying, and enforcing child support agreements.
- Contact Varghese Summersett Family Law Group for experienced guidance with your child support matter.
Child Support in Texas: What Is It?
Child support is the money that a parent pays to assist in the costs of raising a child. Most of the time, child support is ordered by a family court judge after a divorce or separation. This financial support is intended to cover various expenses related to the child’s well-being, including food, shelter, housing, school supplies, daycare, and extracurricular activities.
The history of child support laws in Texas dates back to 1989, with the introduction of standardized guidelines for calculating support. These guidelines were established to ensure a fair and consistent approach to determining child support obligations, taking into account the non-custodial parent’s income and the number of children requiring support. Over the years, these laws have been revised and updated to reflect better the changing economic conditions and the needs of children in Texas.
The Texas Family Code outlines specific rules and percentages of the non-custodial parent’s income to be allocated for child support, making the process more transparent and straightforward. The objective is not only to provide financial assistance for the direct costs of raising a child but also to ensure that the child’s standard of living is maintained in both households, to the extent possible.
Texas law recognizes the importance of both parents contributing to the upbringing and support of their children. Child support cases are handled with the child’s best interests in mind, aiming to provide stability and adequate resources for their growth and development.
Who Pays Child Support? Who Receives It?
In Texas, non-custodial parents (obligors) are responsible for providing child support, while custodial parents (obligees) receive it. The court determines the obligor and obligee based on the obligor’s net monthly income and the number of minor children involved.
Joint custody does not negate the responsibility for child support payments, as the court will assess the details of the child support based on relevant criteria, including the financial situation of both parents, including the non-custodial parent.
How Long Does Child Support Last?
Child support payments generally terminate upon the child reaching 18 years of age or graduating from high school, whichever occurs first. The court may also stop child support payments if any of the following occur:
- The child is emancipated;
- The child enlists in the military;
- The child marries (though the child would still need to be emancipated to get married before the age of 18);
- The child dies; or
- If the parent paying support is found to not be the parent by genetic test (i.e. a blood test).
In some cases, child support payments may be extended indefinitely, which is often the case of children with disabilities, who will need lifetime assistance.
How Child Support is Calculated in Texas
Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code outlines how child support in Texas is calculated. It is based on the non-custodial parent’s net income and the number of children involved. Net resources taken into account when calculating child support payments are:
- Wages and salary
- Interest, dividends, and royalty income
- Self-employment income and net rental income
- Retirement benefits, pensions, and trust income
- Disability allowances and workers’ compensation
Once the obligor’s net monthly income is determined, Texas applies a percentage scale to the net income to calculate the child support amount. The child support percentage guidelines are as follows:
Texas Child Support Percentage Guidelines
|Number of Children
|Percentage of Net Income
|Six or more children
|Not less than 40%
The maximum net monthly income cap for child support in Texas is $8,550, per the child support guidelines.
In certain circumstances, the court may also consider the special needs or interests of the children, such as college education and involvement in sports, music, or other instruction, when determining the amount a parent should pay.
In addition to the percentage of net income, the non-custodial parent is usually required to provide health insurance for the child and may be responsible for additional medical expenses not covered by insurance.
It’s important to note that while these guidelines provide a general framework for calculating child support in Texas, individual circumstances can lead to deviations from these guidelines. It is important to consult with a Southlake child support lawyer to help determine how much you will pay (or receive), depending on if you are a custodial or non-custodial parent.
What if the obligator is unemployed or under-employed?
For unemployed obligors, the court may take into account minimum-wage earnings when determining the appropriate amount of child support. If the obligor is underemployed, the court considers various factors such as the obligor’s educational background, work experience, and the local job market. If the court finds that the obligor is deliberately underemployed or unemployed, they may impute income to guarantee child support obligations are fulfilled.
Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support
Failing to pay child support in Texas can have serious legal consequences, including jail time and fines. A contempt of court judgment for not following a child support order can result in a penalty of up to 6 months in jail. Additionally, criminal nonsupport carries a penalty of up to two years in jail and a maximum of $10,000 in fines.
Avoiding these consequences requires fulfilling child support obligations and seeking legal help if payment difficulties arise. Please take a moment to watch this video by partner Turner Thornton.
Child Support Doesn’t Affect Visitation in Texas
In Texas, child support and visitation rights are treated as separate legal matters. This means that even if a parent fails to pay child support, it does not impact their right to visitation with their child. The court views the financial support and the right to spend time with the child as independent issues. Non-payment of child support could lead to legal consequences, but it does not directly affect a parent’s visitation rights.
Conversely, a parent cannot refuse visitation to the other parent because they have not received child support payments. Each issue is handled independently by the courts to ensure both the financial well-being and the emotional needs of the child are met.
Common Challenges in Child Support Cases
Child support cases can present various challenges, such as:
- Establishing paternity
- Dealing with uncooperative parents
- Navigating complex financial situations
Understanding these challenges and seeking professional legal assistance can help ensure a fair and optimal outcome for both the child and the one parent involved, as well as their other parent.
The step of establishing paternity is important in determining child support obligations. Paternity in Texas can be established through legal presumption when parents are married, acknowledgment of paternity, or via court order.
Once paternity is established, the court can issue orders concerning visitation and child support, ensuring both parents fulfill their respective obligations.
Dealing with Uncooperative Parents
Uncooperative parents can make child support cases more difficult to resolve. If a parent refuses to pay child support, legal actions can be taken, such as consulting a child custody lawyer, filing a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, and pursuing legal action in court.
Enforcement options for child support orders include wage garnishment, property liens, and contempt of court charges against the non-paying parent.
Navigating Complex Financial Situations
Complex financial situations may require expert assistance to accurately calculate child support. Factors that must be taken into account include:
- Parental income
- Cost of living
- Child’s special needs
- Number of children involved
In cases involving high-income earners or significant assets, specialized legal representation may be necessary to ensure a fair child support calculation.
How to Change the Amount of Child Support
In order to modify a child court order in Texas, the parent must, at a minimum, show two things:
- There is a material and substantial change in the circumstances of the child or one of the parents; and
- The modification is in the best interest of the child.
Examples of a material and substantial change in circumstances include:
- A parent remarries and has another child(s);
- A parent changes or loses their job (sudden change in finances);
- A parent moves away;
- A parent goes to jail;
- A parent has a drug or alcohol problem;
- A parent is abusive or neglectful.
- A parent gets deployed for military duty;
- A parent suffers from a serious illness;
- A parent dies.
If you believe you meet the criteria for a material and substantial change, the next step is to contact an experienced Southlake child support lawyer. The attorney will draft a modification and file it with the court that issued the original order. A hearing will be scheduled and both parties will be able to present arguments in court. The judge will determine the best interests of the child and may modify the existing child support order.
The Role of a Southlake Child Support Lawyer
The Southlake child support lawyers at Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group represent clients going through emotionally charged family law matters. Our expertise and knowledge of the Texas and Tarrant County family court system can help ensure the best possible outcome for your child support case.
Whether you are seeking to establish child support, modify an existing order, or enforce a child support agreement, a Southlake child support lawyer at our firm can guide you through the process and advocate for your interests.
Representation in Court
Lawyers represent clients in court to ensure the best outcome in child support cases. They perform various tasks, including:
- Gathering evidence
- Presenting arguments
- Cross-examining witnesses
- Advocating for their clients throughout the legal process
With skilled representation from our child support attorneys, you can be confident that your child support case will be handled with care and professionalism.
Negotiating Fair Child Support Agreements
Skilled negotiation can result in fair child support agreements that benefit both parties. Southlake child support lawyers leverage their legal knowledge to advocate for their clients and ensure that the child support agreement is equitable and in the child’s best interest. They also help clients navigate complex financial situations and evaluate the earning potential of underemployed or unemployed obligors.
Assistance with Modifications and Enforcement
Legal assistance is crucial for modifying or enforcing child support orders. A Southlake child support lawyer at our firm can help clients gather the necessary documentation, file the appropriate paperwork with the court, and represent them in court hearings and negotiations.
Whether you need to modify an existing child support order or enforce a non-paying parent’s obligations, a Southlake child support lawyer can provide the guidance and support you need.
Need Help With Child Support Matter? Contact Us
If you’re facing a child support matter in Southlake, don’t go it alone. The dedicated team at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group is here to guide you every step of the way. Our experienced Southlake child support lawyers will handle your case with care and professionalism.
Whether you’re establishing child support, seeking modifications, or facing enforcement issues, our attorneys are equipped to provide the legal support and guidance you need. Call Varghese Summersett Family Law Group today at 817-900-3220 for a consultation.