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Dallas Child Support Lawyers
Child support is often a very difficult and contentious matter. Parents who are going through a divorce will often use child support as a weapon against their former spouse and will attempt to punish the other parent through child support hearings. Unfortunately, this is not what child support was meant to do. Rather, child support was and is intended as a means of ensuring that a child or children will continue to be financially supported after the dissolution of marriage or a relationship. Child support payments are not a one size fits all payment, and each child support proceeding is different. At Queenan Law, child support attorneys can have a dramatic impact on your child welfare case as well as your family.
Who is Required to Pay Child Support?
In Texas, all parents have a responsibility to care for their children’s financial needs and wellbeing. This obligation continues even if the marriage or relationship ends in a divorce. While either parent may be required to pay child support generally the family courts in Texas will issue an order requiring the parent who does not have primary physical custody to pay child support for the child or children. While it is generally very easy for a court to determine who will pay child support based on who has custody of the child, the court will also take other factors into consideration as set forth in the Texas Family Code. Some of the factors the court will consider when they are determining not only who will pay child support but how much include:
- The child’s age
- The child’s financial needs
- The parent's ability to financially support the child
- Any financial resources that are available to support the child
- The amount of time each parent spends with the child.
- The cost of child care expenses incurred by each parent
- Whether either parent has physical custody of another child
- The amount of alimony or spousal supports a parent is being paid or receiving.
The central theme in the Texas family law system when it comes to children is always “the best interests of the child,” and even in matters of child support the best interests of the child need to be accounted for.
How Much Child Support Will I Have to Pay?
The Texas family courts will generally require that the parent who is not in the primary physical custody of the child to pay child support to the parent who is in primary physical custody. The court has a fair amount of discretion to determine how much the paying parent, who is often referred to as the Obligor, will pay to the receiving parent, who is often referred to as the Obligee. Again, when the court is determining how much one or both parents should pay in child support, the court will always begin with the best interests of the child. The court will look at the parent's net resources and apply a set percentage for each child. The percentage to be applied is generally as follows:
- 20% for 1 child,
- 25% for 2 children,
- 30% for 3 children,
- 35% for 4 children,
- 40% for 5 or more children
As noted above, the court will determine the amount of child support to be paid based on the net resources of the paying parent. Net resources generally include:
- Dividend income,
- Self-employment income
- Net rental income,
- Severance pay,
- Retirement benefits,
- Trust income,
- Capital gains,
- Social security benefits,
- Unemployment benefits.
There are many other sources of income that can be considered to be net resources. The court will determine net resources by taking the total amount of money the parent receives from all sources and deduct certain deductions such as social security taxes, federal taxes using only one deduction, state income tax, union dues, and the cost of the child’s health insurance. When calculating the child support obligation, the net resources are capped at $8,550.00 per month. The court will order health insurance to be provided for the child. The parent paying child support is generally the parent ordered to provide health insurance. Both parents are usually ordered to share payment of medical expenses which are not paid by the insurance company.
How Long do I Have to Pay Child Support?
Parents often wonder how long they will have to pay child support and often have questions about certain events in a child’s life and how it may impact their obligation to pay child support.
In Texas, a general rule to follow is that a parent is expected to provide for their child financially until the child turns eighteen years old, or when they graduate from high school, taking into account that some students turn eighteen while they are in high school. However, a parent who has a child with special needs may be obligated to continue making child support payments after the child turns eighteen years old, and depending on the severity of the child’s condition a parent may be expected to provide for their child financially for the duration of the child’s life. However, in the event that the child dies, marries, or is legally emancipated, meaning they are declared an adult, a parent who has been ordered to pay child support may be relieved of their duty to provide for their child financially.
Can Child Support Payments be Modified?
While child support payments are designed to ensure that a child is cared for financially until they reach an age where they can provide for themselves, there are many events in a parent’s life that can affect their ability to pay child support. Child support payments may be increased or decreased if there has been a substantial change in circumstances of the parents or the needs of the child. Child support can also be modified if it has been at least three years since the last child support order and the new amount calculated under the child support guidelines differ by either 20% or $100.00 from the amount of support currently ordered.
A parent who is making or receiving child support payments can file for a modification which in effect looks at the parent’s new situation to determine if the current child support payments are sufficient and in congruence with the expectations set forth in the Texas Family Law Code.
Contact Our Texas Family Law Attorneys in Dallas, Arlington and Houston
To set up a free legal consultation about your family law matter, call the Queenan Law Firm at (817) 476-1797. 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.