Child Support

1. How does Texas Calculate Child Support?

By statute, the legislature has adopted Child Support Guidelines. Basically, child support under the Guidelines will be a percentage of the support payor’s “net resources” as defined in the Guidelines, based on the number of children. For example, the guidelines require the payor to pay 20% of his “net resources” for one child, 25% for two children, etc. The maximum percentage any parent will pay is 40% and the maximum net resources that can be used to determine the actual child support amount is $8550.00. Most courts generally follow the guidelines unless there are unusual circumstances. Also, the Family Code requires that, if the support payor is an hourly or salaried employee, the payor’s child support is to be withheld from his wages by his employer and paid directly to the custodial parent. Although this can be waived, it rarely is. At present, the child support from a wage withholding order are first being sent through the State Disbursement Unit in San Antonio and then forwarded to the person entitled to receive child support.

2. Does One Parent Pay Child Support to The Other Parent?

One of you almost definitely will. Generally speaking, the parent who gets the right to designate where the children live will also get to receive child support payments. The other parent, of course, will have to pay. If the Court makes the decision about child custody, then child support will be almost definitely be ordered. If you and your spouse are making an agreement about child custody, you may agree together that neither of you will pay child support to the other. Note: The Texas Family Code has recently been changed so that neither parent has to be given the right to designate the primary residence of the child. This will only apply to suits filed after September 2009. If your suit was or will be filed after that date, the Court may order (in appropriate circumstances) a true 50-50 split of possession time. In that instance, the Court may order that neither parent pays child support to the other, but both parents will have the duty to actually support the child while the child is in his or her care. “Actual support” means that the parent is financially providing for the child directly (buying him clothes, food, toys, etc.) rather than paying money via child support payments to the other parent who then, in turn, provides for the child.

3. Once an Order for Child Support or Custody has been Entered, can either party seek to change it later?

Yes. Again, this is called a modification. A modification can apply to both child custody and/or child support. If financial circumstances have changed for the person paying child support since your Child Support Order was entered, you may want to seek what is called a modification. This means that you are asking the court to modify or change your existing order. You and your attorney will have to show the court what has changed. If you are the payor – you will likely be trying to show that you make less money now than at the time the last order was entered. If you are the one receiving child support – you will likely be trying to show how much more money the payor is making now. Note: if you are the payor and are now making less money than before, don’t just reduce your payments or stop paying entirely. Get the COURT to adjust your child support payments or you could land yourself in a lot of trouble.

4. My Spouse has not been Paying his or her Court Ordered Child support? What options do I have?

If you believe that your child’s other parent is not following a court order, you may want to seek what is called Enforcement. This means you are asking the court to enforce its earlier order against your ex. Your ex may be found in contempt of court, and could be fined or, in the case of not paying child support, even jailed.  Unfortunately, child support enforcement is a common issue in Texas. The Texas Family Code has recently been changed to make it much easier to recover attorney’s fees in an Enforcement case. This applies to cases filed after September 2009. If you are considering filing an Enforcement action, talk to your attorney about how this provision works.