Child Support Attorney in Waco, Texas
Child support is about your child’s right to grow and thrive. In Texas, you can file a suit for child support any time between your child’s birth and 18th birthday, graduation, or emancipation. If your child is disabled, you can file for child support at any time during your child’s life as long as the disability existed before your child’s 18th birthday.
Monthly child support pays for your child’s daily needs, including food, shelter, healthcare, and education. You or the other parent may voluntarily agree to pay child support. If an agreement cannot be reached or you prefer to have the court determine the amount of child support, the court will issue a child support order.
The Texas Family Code provides set guidelines (percentages) to determine the amount of support to be paid per child. A good place to start in determining an amount is to use the child support calculator (https://csapps.oag.texas.gov/monthly-child-support-calculator_) on the Office of the Attorney General of Texas website. The guidelines help determine the amount of child support you owe based on your “net resources.” Net resources include all wages, income, and payments you receive. In Texas, the guidelines provide a deduction of your social security tax, federal income tax, union dues and health insurance contributions.
Courts in Texas normally follow the guidelines set forth in the Family Code, however, in some circumstances, the Court could order further support based on your child’s proven needs. Also, when there is an agreement or order of equal possession by both parents, the Courts often look to equalize the standard of living between the parents. In this specific case where there is equal possession of the child, one party may still have to pay child support to the other parent, but this amount wouldn’t be as high (normally) as the guidelines in the Family Code.
While the calculator provides a good starting point, calculating the amount of child support you will pay is often more complicated. We understand that your child’s financial needs are unique. We will work with you to find the right strategy for determining child support.
Modification of Child Support
You or your spouse can petition the court to change the amount of court-ordered child support paid per month. Texas allows the court to modify court-ordered child support after the initial order is in place.
One way to modify the child support order is to show that a material and substantial change in your circumstances has occurred. A material and substantial change could include changes in income, additional children, living arrangements, or insurance coverage.
You or your spouse could also petition the court to modify the child support order if the current order has been in effect for three or more years and changing the order would result in a difference of 20% or $100 in each monthly payment.
If you have lost your job and you are ordered to pay child support, then if at all possible, file a modification to lower the amount of support while you find new employment. Courts will often lower the support amount on a temporary basis in an unemployment situation. However, while you wait for a court hearing to lower support, or while you look for a new job, you are still responsible for the ordered amount of support. Always try to pay something each month towards your child support obligation.
If you want to modify your child support order or determine whether you would be eligible for modification, contact us today. Let us help you address your child’s needs.
Enforcement of Child Support
If you are the parent who receives child support and no payment has been made for over a month, you have the right to file an enforcement motion. An enforcement of child support motion identifies to the Court the order for child support, how much the other parent is ordered to pay, and the dates that support was ordered but not paid.
If the court finds that a parent has failed to comply with a child support order, the court might order compliance and/or hold the parent in contempt of court. Contempt could result in jail time or fines. Other possible penalties include income withholding, a lien on any non-exempt property, or suspension of a professional license or driver’s license.
If you are the parent who was ordered to pay child support and you haven’t made your monthly payments, there are certain defenses to failure to pay support. These defenses include inability to pay child support (such as unemployment, no property to sell, no ability to get a loan, severe illness), the other parent voluntarily turned the child over to your primary care and possession, or direct payments to the other parent. However, the best course of action to take, when you cannot pay ordered child support, is to pay what you can to the other parent and either hire a lawyer to modify your support to a lower amount or contact the Office of the Attorney General and request a modification through their office.