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Arlington Child Support Lawyer
Child support is not intended to be just “extra money” for the parent who has custody of a child. Rather, child support payments should be used to provide for your child after a separation or divorce. However, all too often child support disputes arise and family relationships are strained as a result. At the Queenan Law Firm, we are sensitive to the concerns of mothers, fathers, and families who are going through a divorce or separation. We are committed to helping you and your family navigate the complex child support guidelines and system in Arlington. Our goal is to provide you with exemplary legal guidance during this often difficult time.
Texas Child Support Guidelines
In most divorces or separations where they are children involved, there will be some kind of support that the court will order one parent to pay, usually being the parent who does not have full custody of the child. Child support payments are a means for the court to ensure that the child’s needs are being met after the parents have separated. The court will determine how much a parent is required to pay by employing a formula based on the Texas child support guidelines. However, the court does have some latitude to deviate from the child support guidelines, therefore you should always consider working with an experienced family law attorney to discuss the specifics of these guidelines and how they may apply to you.
There is a mis-founded presumption that child support payments are designed to punish one parent, however, to the contrary, child support payments are intended to ensure the proper care of the child and are not meant to be implemented as a punishment. In Texas, child support is calculated based on a percentage of net income which is also called the parent’s “net resources”. The basic steps to calculate child support are to:
1. Determine an average monthly gross income for the parent who is to pay child support. Gross income can include:
- Dividend income,
- Self-employment income,
- Net rental income,
- Severance pay,
- Retirement benefits,
- Trust income,
- Capital gains,
- Social security benefits,
- Unemployment benefits,
- Interest income,
- Spousal maintenance,
2. A monthly net resource is calculated using a tax table updated annually by the Texas Attorney General. The current Tax charts can be found on the Texas Attorney general’s website.
3. The court will then allow a parent to take deductions for social security, personal federal income tax, and for the child’s medical expenses.
4. The adjusted net income per month is multiplied by a percentage depending on how many children are involved as follows:
- 1 child 20% of net resources
- 2 children 25% of net resources
- 3 children 30% of net resources
- 4 children 35% of net resources
- 5 children 40% of net resources
- 6 children not less than 40%
The court will also take into consideration if the parent has other children to support from another relationship in an effort to ensure that a parent is able to meet all of their obligations to a child. In addition, the court may look at any of the following:
- The age of the child or children.
- The child’s financial needs, and if the child has any special needs.
- The ability of both parents to financially support the child.
- Any financial resources that are available to support the child.
- Each parent’s amount of time spent with the child.
- The cost of child care expenses incurred by either parent.
- Whether either parent has physical custody of another child.
- The amount of alimony or spousal support being paid or received.
The judge is free to examine many factors in reaching a child support order, however, a central theme running through the court's examination and ultimately finding, is what is in the best interests of the child.
How Long Does a Parent Have to Pay Child Support?
Generally, a parent who is ordered to pay child support will be expected to pay the custodial parent child support payments until the child reaches the age of 18. However, there are exceptions to this general rule, which should be discussed with an attorney. If the child is enrolled in high school and turns eighteen during the course of their education, a parent paying child support will generally still be under an obligation to continue making child support payments until the child finishes their education. In addition, another large exception to the general rule that parents will be expected to provide for their child until they turn eighteen years old, and that is when the child has special needs and requires special accommodations. In these delicate circumstances, a parent may have an obligation to continue making child support payments after the child has turned eighteen years old. Based on the individual circumstances a parent may be expected to provide for their child’s financial needs indefinitely. In these cases, it is important to work closely with a family law attorney who can guide you through the delicate child support guidelines.
Are there Events that Terminate Child Support?
While above, we discussed how long a parent is expected to continue making child support payments, it is also important to note that there are some events that can terminate a parent’s obligation to make child support payments. According to the Texas Family Code Sections 154.006 and 154.002. The obligation to pay child support for a child terminates when:
- The child marries, dies, or is emancipated by court order.
- The child begins active duty in the United States armed forces.
- A court terminates the parent-child relationship between the man ordered to pay child support and the child based on genetic testing that determines the man is not the child’s father.
- The person ordered to pay child support and the person ordered to receive child support marry or remarry each other unless a nonparent or agency has been appointed a conservator of the child.
As discussed above, child support payments will also terminate when the child turns eighteen years old absent any extenuating circumstances.
Contact an Arlington Child Support Lawyer of Queenan Law
To set up a free legal consultation about your family law matter, call the Queenan Law Firm at (817) 719-8082. With more than 20 years of legal experience representing mothers and fathers throughout the Arlington area, our attorneys are always eager to put our knowledge and skill to work for you.