Raising a child is an expensive endeavor, from clothes to sports, to education you may feel like the bills never stop. Raising a child can seem even more expensive if only one parent is making income. If you are going through a divorce or about to go through a divorce you are probably familiar with child support. Child support is intended to make sure both parents are financially supporting their children.
However, even though many people know what child support is they may not be aware of what they are entitled to and how the courts calculate the amount of child support a parent should pay. To set up a free legal consultation, call Queenan Law at (888) 522-6500. Our child support attorneys handle child support claims in the Houston and Dallas metropolitan areas, including Baytown, Sugar Land, Pearland, Arlington, Fort Worth, Irving, and more.
Call Queenan Law or contact us online and tell us about your situation. With more than 20 years of legal experience among our attorneys, we are eager to put our knowledge to work for you
What is Child Support?
As you know children cannot support themselves, and with rising costs of education and everyday expenses, it can be expensive to raise a child. If you are going through a divorce you may wonder what exactly is child support. Essentially, child support is money that the court orders that one parent pays to the other parent for the financial benefit of the child. All parents have a legal duty to financially support their children. This legal duty exists even if there is no court order for child support.
In Texas, "parent" is a legal term. A parent is the child's biological mother AND a man who is either:
- Presumed to be the child's father (married to the child's mother when the child is born), OR
- Legally determined to be the child's biological father, OR
- Signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity,
- Or an adoptive mother or father. Texas Family Code, Section 101.024.
A Texas court may order a parent to support his or her child until the child turns 18 years old, graduates from high school, marries, dies, or is emancipated by a court order. If the child is disabled, the court may order a parent to financially support the child indefinitely.
Are Other Factors Considered?
The Texas legislature has put together guidelines that should be followed by the court when they are determining child support. The amount of support that may be granted is determined without regard to whether or not the child was born outside of marriage. These guidelines should apply unless the parents agree on some other. Generally, the parents may agree upon a suitable amount of child support, however, this is subject to the court’s approval. A court may also consider other factors to determine if applying the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case. Those factors include:
- The child's age and needs;
- The parent's ability to contribute to the child's support;
- The Obligee's net resources and earning potential;
- Any financial resources available for the child support;
- Child care expenses;
- The child's educational expenses;
- Whether either party has actual physical custody of another child;
- The amount of alimony or spousal maintenance;
- Employee benefits such as housing or a company car;
- Health insurance and uninsured medical expenses for the child;
- Extraordinary educational, health care or other expenses of the child;
- Positive or negative cash flow from the real or personal property, and assets like businesses or investments;
- Any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child,
- Taking into consideration the circumstances of the parents.
Texas Family Code, Section 154.123.
If a court order for child support is not based on the statutory guidelines, it must include special findings that help explain the reason why it varies from the guidelines.
How Do I Establish and Enforce a Child Support Order?
If you and your spouse are going through a divorce you may be wondering how the court is going to establish and enforce an order for child support. The amount that one parent may have to pay to the other for child support is one of the most controversial issues in child custody cases. Most parents have the child’s interest in mind and are simply seeking to have their children’s needs met, however, some parents try to use child support as a form of punishment and request exorbitant sums. The court system in Texas has established guidelines that will curtail many of these requests, however, having an experienced family law attorney will increase your chances of receiving an appropriate amount of child support.
The court systems have been granted to power to order either or both parents to make child support payments until the child is 18 years old or graduates from high school, whichever event is later. However, if the child is disabled the parents can be ordered to pay child support after the child becomes an adult. The court will determine the amount of child support that either one or both parents will have to pay based on a list of factors. Once the court has determined how much a parent should pay they will make a Child Support Order.
Once a child support order has been entered it can only be modified under specific conditions. A court order providing for support can only be modified by filing a motion in the court under the continuing jurisdiction of the SAPCR ("suit affecting the parent-child relationship". If a parent who is obligated to make child support payments fails to do so the court has the power to:
- Hold them in contempt.
- To suspend any licenses they may have.
- To place a child support lien.
- To enter a money judgment for a money judgment for the child support arrearages.
For the court to grant a modification to the support order the circumstances of the child or of the parent who is obligated to pay their circumstances must have “materially and substantially changed.”
Contact a Houston Family Law Attorney at Queenan Law Today
If you have a child support question Call Queenan Law or contact us online and tell us about your situation. With more than 20 years of legal experience among our attorneys, we are eager to put our knowledge to work for you.