Child Support Court
Financial Support for the KidFirst Parent
Do you need financial support to take care of your children? Or have you received notice from the Attorney General about a hearing on child support?
Whether you’ll be paying child support or asking to receive it, we can help walk you through the process.
What Is KidFirst Child Support?
Child support is more than a grade school math problem. As the name implies, it’s supposed to be about supporting a child. So why does the system so often fail to take the child’s need in mind?
In short, because it’s easier not to.
The Baseline Rules
Family law in Texas, including child support law, includes a lot of what lawyers call “presumptions.” These are things we assume to be true, unless someone proves otherwise. Presumptions make up the foundation that we build upon.
Take, for example, a common phrase from criminal law: “innocent until proven guilty.” What does that mean?
It means that we have a presumption of innocence. That’s the baseline. If the state wants a court or jury to find someone guilty, they have a job to do. They have to prove why the accused should be punished by showing the presumption is wrong.
This also applies to child support law. The presumptions are based on simple math.
In fact, you can jump over right now to the Attorney General’s child support calculator and plug in the numbers. As you’ll see, the presumed child support amount factors in things like income, number of children in the case, number of other children being cared for, and insurance.
Most judges in most cases apply these baseline rules to calculate child support. However, many families don’t fit neatly into the mathematical box. You may need an attorney who can argue for special consideration.
Being Smarter Than The Rules
Do you have a child with special needs? Do you have income from other sources than a W2 job? Or does the parent you need support from own his or her own business?
There are many reasons that a simple calculation won’t do for your family.
As with the state prosecuting an alleged criminal, the default rules will apply unless you are able to prove your situation is unique. How could you do that?
- Can you show non-W2 (salaries and wages) income?
- Can you prove your child has unique needs?
- Do you have particular needs because of your own health?
If math doesn’t reasonably consider your unique circumstances, you may need an attorney to stand for you in child support court.
Yes, this will be more expensive up front than simply asking for a calculator to determine your future child support situation, but a child support order can impact your family for nearly two decades. Think long term to weigh your options.
We will lay out your options below, but first let us tell you about our law firm.
You Need A Different Kind of Guide
Lawyers are not all the same. We’re human beings. We bring our personalities, perspectives, and priorities to the job. Even good lawyers disagree about what matters in a modification case.
Our priority is clear: we protect your kids.
That may sound obvious, but it isn’t. Our ethical responsibilities require us to put our clients first. Your children will not be our clients, you will. But we never work with parents who won’t put their children first. With that standard, we know that protecting your children means we are also protecting you.
Our method is simple: KidFirst Decision Making.
Using KidFirst Decision Making, we obsessively work to reduce drama. That leads to reduced costs, reasonable timeframes, and – most importantly – healthier children.
If you are a KidFirst parent, you can feel confident that you’ve found the right firm to help guide your family through this difficult time.
It Begins With Our Founding Attorney
Angela Faye Brown is definitely a unique lawyer. Long before considering law school, Angela cared about how law and policy impact kids.
She earned two public policy degrees from the University of Texas at Austin before returning to law school at U.T. During law school, she took up children’s issues as student counsel in the Children’s Rights Clinic.
Under the supervision of such legal luminaries as Jack Sampson (he literally wrote the book on Texas family law), Angela represented children who’d been removed from their homes in Child Protective Services cases. These children showed Angela the courage, confusion, and concern found inside every child in trouble.
Now, as a new mother herself, Angela appreciates the importance of the parent child relationship in a special way. It’s natural for a parent to shield children from unnecessary harm, and she gets why you want that so much. Angela’s experience and priorities make her a uniquely qualified guide for you and your family.
The Options In Front Of You
If you are facing a child support issue, you have two primary options:
- Attorney General Court: The Texas Attorney General can pursue or adjust child support for parents. There is no cost for you to attend these courts. However, know that the AG courts cannot function if they treat every case as unique. The AG is a party to your child support case, representing the state. The judge does not work for the Attorney General, but is an administrative judge assigned to this particular issue. These courts see hundreds of cases every time they are in session. Expect for simple calculations to be applied to your case, unless you have an attorney to effectively argue otherwise.
- Private Child Support Action In District Court: District courts are superior to AG courts. That means that, even if you have a case before the AG court, you can file in district court and the case will be moved. This is particularly useful if you plan to seek some calculation other than the baseline rules. If you want to be treated as unique, hiring an attorney to file in district court is the best route.
Whether you go to the AG court, or move the case to district court by filing a private action, you must decide how much attorney involvement you need.
Do I Need An Attorney For Child Support Cases?
As is true in most family law cases, you are not required to hire an attorney to represent you in a child support case. So why might you want to hire an attorney?
- You are anxious about an unfamiliar process
- You are asking for special consideration from the court
- The other side is asking for special consideration
- You don’t feel comfortable learning what is required to make informed decisions
You may have several reasons to hire an attorney to help with your child support cases, but you should always base your decision on quality information.
What Are My Options For Hiring An Attorney?
As we mentioned above, not every child support case requires the same amount of expert help. Much depends on what type of court you will stand before, and which special considerations you may require.
Our firm offers three principal options for attorney help:
- Virtual Training Course: If you feel that your case will follow baseline calculations, but that you need more knowledge than you have to make informed decisions, consider our virtual training course. This video-based course will share with you key information that will guide you through the child support process.
- Personal Child Support Coaching: If your case is a little more complicated than the baseline, or you’d like professional and custom advice for your case, Child Support Coaching is your best option. You’ll receive personal time with an attorney with experience in child support cases. We will evaluate your situation to advise you on how to prepare for child support court, and give you educational material that will help make the best choices.
- Attorney Representation: If you feel your case is truly unique, or you want expert counsel to help alleviate some of your anxieties about child support calculations, consider hiring our firm on an hourly basis. This is the most custom, most personal option available. We can make arguments in your place before the child support court. This could include calling witnesses, gathering evidence of income, and refuting the evidence of the other side.
Whichever option you choose, know that you can increase your representation if things become more complicated than you expected. It may be wise to try a lower option, then upgrade.
But please never attend a hearing until you’ve spoken with an attorney about your representation options. The results of a child support hearing can impact your financial situation for many years. You may have a chance to correct errors later, but only after significant financial harm.
What Do I Do Now?
Your next step is to read this e-book about child support court.
This book is designed to give you the information you need to make a good choice about your representation options. In it, we tell you more about how the court works, and what your potential risks are.
Once you have read the e-book, make sure you contact us to talk to an intake specialist. If necessary, our specialist will schedule a time for you to talk to one of our experienced attorneys.
Please, before you do anything with your child support, contact us. We want to help you be a KidFirst Parent, and your financial means will greatly impact that.