Whether establishing child support for the first time, modifying a previous order, or attempting to enforce an order of child support – this issue can turn even the simplest cases into a bitter point of dispute between parents. Not only which parent will pay, but how much will the paying parent be required to pay. It can turn seemingly cooperative parents into believing this case is “all about the money” or that the money is not being spent properly on the support of the children. These are very real issues that require experienced legal representation or this issue can quickly spiral out of control.
Our child support attorneys at Evans Family Law Group, we know how important the issue of financial security for your children is. Overall, however, it’s important to get it right.
Areas of Representation
We offer representation for child support in the following areas:
- Establishment of child support
- Calculation of Child Support
- Attorney General Hearings
- When applicable, securing child support above the Texas “guidelines”
- When applicable, securing child support below the Texas “guidelines”
- Modification of a prior Child Support Orders
- Temporary Child Support
- Establishing wage withholding orders
- Enforcement of Child Support
- Suspending professional licenses as enforcement of child support
- Obtaining judgments for retroactive child support
- Calculating “arrearages” or amounts due on ordered child support
- Child support for children with disabilities or special needs
The Mechanics: Calculating Child Support
If child support is an issue in your case, know that our child support attorneys will discuss this issue with you in detail. It’s very important that you understand the mechanics of how the courts determine child support and what the Texas Family Code provides with regard to calculating child. Know our attorneys will assist you in understanding how your particular situation will affect your own personal financial situation.
The courts start with what is known as the “Texas Guidelines” for child support, which essentially utilizes set percentages of what is known as the paying spouse’s (or the “obligor”) “net resources” which has a presumed cap of $7,500.
Determining a potential obligor’s “net resources” can be complex and depends entirely upon the circumstances of your particular case. Net resources can differ depending upon whether a paying parent is paid hourly, receives a salary, has “fringe benefits” as part of a compensation package, is paid quarterly bonuses, works on commission, is self employed or has multiple jobs.
This chart below is simply a guide for cases where the paying parent has net resources which are $7,500 or less.
Number of Children and Percentage of Net Resources
The percentages above will automatically be adjusted if the parent obligated to pay child support has other minor children that he or she has a legal obligation to support. It is important to keep in mind that these figures are just guidelines. The amount of support to be ordered or agreed upon in your case depend greatly upon a number of factors, for which our child support attorneys are very experienced.
Deviating from Guidelines: Paying More or Less
It is a common misconception that the obligor will be ordered to pay only the amount as determined by the guideline percentage and “not a penny more.” Men, in particular, have trouble with this one. The obligor parent is frequently ordered to also provide health insurance for the children, however the guideline formula takes this into account and adjusts the amount of support accordingly.
In the event the obligor’s net resources exceed $7,500 per month or a parent con successfully convince the court that a child has proven needs beyond that which is determined according to the guideline formula, additional child support may be ordered. The court may, if proven by a party that the amount as determined by the guidelines is not “in the best interest of the Child and “justifies a variance” from the guidelines.
In April 1995, the Texas Legislature adopted Tex. Family Code § 154.123 sets forth the factors the court may consider in ordering child support which deviates from the guidelines (those in bold are the most common sought to be established in court):
- The age and needs of the child;
- The ability of the parents to contribute to the support of the child;
- Any financial resources available for the support of the child;
- The amount of time of possession of and access to a child;
- Child care expenses incurred in order to maintain gainful employment;
- Whether a party has custody of another child;
- Amount of spousal maintenance actually being paid or received;
- Expenses for a child for education beyond secondary school;
- Provision for health insurance & payment of uninsured medical expenses;
- Special educational, health care, or other expenses of the parties or child;
- Cost of travel in order to exercise possession of and access to a child;
- Debts or debt service assumed by either party;
- The amount of the obligee’s net resources, including the earning potential of the obligee if the actual income of the obligee is significantly less than what the obligee could earn because the obligee is intentionally unemployed or underemployed and including an increase or decrease in the income of the obligee or income that may be attributed to the property and assets of the oblige;
- Whether an obligor or obligee has automobile, housing, or other benefits furnished by his or her employer, another person, or a business entity;
- the amount of other deductions from the wage or salary income and from other compensation for personal services of the parties;
- positive or negative cash flow from any real and personal property and assets, including a business and investments; and
- Any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into consideration the circumstances of the parents.
Duration of Child Support & Special Needs Children
Child support is typically ordered until emancipates, marries, enlists in the military, turns 18, or graduates from high school. This obligation may continue even after a child turns 18, but remains enrolled, meets the full time attendance requirements, and is working towards obtaining a GED or high school diploma.
However, a major exception to this rule involves children with special needs or a disability which requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a mental or physical disability and is not or will not be capable of self-support. In this event, provided the disability is known prior to the Child’s 18th birthday, child support may be ordered indefinitely.
Our family law attorneys are very sensitive to the issue of children with special needs.
Whether you are fighting to establish child support or attempting to defend a claim for child support, you need experienced legal representation. Child support can be very complicated and its important to get it right in order to allow for financial planning. Austin Child Support Attorney James W. Evans has over 17 years of experience and is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Each case is unique. We work with a team of independent professionals to evaluate each case on the needs of your particular circumstances to make accurate calculations for child support for your particular case. Contact our Austin child support attorneys at Evans Family Law Group Office today. We offer free initial consultations. Call us at (512) 628-2550 or email Mr. Evans directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.