Important things to know about Child Support
Child support can be a contentious issue between divorced parents. The parent receiving the child support, can use the funds however they want (even though they are intended for the support of the child). Also, the payments continue until the last child is 18 or graduates from high school. Only parents can be ordered to pay child support and most judges follow guidelines established by the Texas Legislature because they are presumed to be reasonable and in the child’s best interest.
1. Child Support Guidelines
Guideline Child Support is calculated by subtracting expenses from gross income to generate net monthly income. Gross monthly income includes all income and expense deductions are allowed for taxes, union dues and health insurance. Net resources are capped at $8,550.00 per month.
2. Calculated payments
Child support payments are calculated by multiplying net monthly resources by percentages based on the number of children involved: 1 = 20%; 2 = 25%, 3 = 30%; 4 = 35%, 5 = 40%; and for more than 5 children not less than 40% of net resources. These percentages are reduced if children from a prior marriage are also receiving support.
3. Extra Child Support
The court may order child support above the $8,550.00 cap if the extra support is justified by the income of the parties and the needs of the child. Examples of extra needs are private school tuition, a body guard, a nanny, travel, music lessons, Christmas presents and vacations.
4. Unjust or Inappropriate Child Support
A court may decide guideline support is unjust or inappropriate if the child has special medical needs, the parent’s incomes are high, extra child care is required or the child has special educational requirements needs.
5. Retroactive Child support
Retroactive child support may be ordered if none was requested earlier because, for example, the mother couldn’t identify the father of her child. The court must follow Texas guidelines when ordering retroactive support. Requests for retroactive child support may be filed up to four years after the child’s 18th.
6. Changing payments
Child support payments may be changed only by a court, although the parties can bring an agreed order to the court for review and signing. Any modification of child support must be in the child’s best interest, result from a material and substantial change of circumstances or occur three years after the original child support order was entered.
7. Enforcement by the Texas Attorney General
Child support payments may be enforced by a private attorney or the Texas Attorney General’s office. A court may order withholding from income, levy financial holdings and suspend any licenses issued by the State to the delinquent payer. In egregious cases, the court may hold the delinquent payer in contempt and put him in jail.
8. Children can’t be withheld
Possession and access to children can’t be withheld simply because the other parent is not paying child support. These are independent rights and duties and the custodial parent cannot deny the other parent access his children to force child support payments.
9. Best Solution
The best way to avoid child support problems is to have a collaborative divorce. During a collaborative divorce, the parties can agree on the amount of support, they know their children’s needs and they are more likely to comply with the collaborative divorce agreement than with a court support order.