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Helping Parents Understand Their Child Support Rights And Obligations

Transitioning to a single-income household is a big adjustment. Children need to acclimate to visitation schedules, and parents must adjust to co-parenting and handling child support payments. Many families find these changes overwhelming and confusing.

If you are a newly single parent, understanding your child support rights can alleviate stress and better equip you to handle this new chapter in your family’s life. Our attorneys at Angela Faye Brown & Associates will explain your obligations, inform you of what you should expect if you are the receiving party and protect the financial security of your children by fighting for fair payments on behalf of them. We can be a great resource for parents as our attorneys have plenty of experience in cases that specifically involve children. No matter what the circumstances of your child support case are, our goal is always to protect the well-being of your child.

Understanding Child Support Laws In Texas

When parents get a divorce, the noncustodial parent (or obligor) is usually responsible for paying child support. However, the court can also require the custodial parent to pay depending on the circumstances. Per Texas Family Code §154.001, a child must receive financial support until or unless:

  • They either graduate from high school or turn 18 years old, whichever happens later
  • They get married
  • They die
  • They become disabled indefinitely

Courts consider the parents’ income, benefits, assets and other types of compensation when determining how much child support one party must pay to the other. The custodial parent must use the money received from child support payments to take care of their child. As such, they should keep receipts from purchases made for their child in case of an audit. Our lawyers can explain a paying parent’s child support obligations as they are set out in the court order.

How Child Support Is Calculated In Texas

The amount of child support that the obligor pays depends on how many children they are paying for. If they have one child, they pay 20% of their net resources. For two children, they pay 25%. The amount increases by 5% for each additional child, with five children amounting to 40% and six or more children amounting to no less than 40%. If the obligor is paying to support children in multiple households, the amounts they must pay are adjusted based on how many children are in one home.

Changing A Child Support Order

Initially, parents can challenge a child support order before it takes effect. This typically happens if there are circumstances or expenses that the court did not have accounted for, such as a child’s disability, health care costs, or educational expenses. Only the court can amend a support agreement after enacting it. Parents can request a review of their existing agreement under the following circumstances if:

  • The parent’s or child’s situation has changed dramatically
  • It has been at least three years since the court established the support order
  • The monthly payment amount changes considerably based on child support guidelines

Parents who wish to change their child support order should consult with an attorney in Houston to determine whether they can request the court to review their existing agreement.

Answering Frequently Asked Child Support Questions

Child support can be a heated subject between parents. We help parents understand what to expect, whether they are the obligor or obligee of child support payments. Below are some frequently asked questions we hear from our clients.

Who pays child support?

In most situations in Texas, the noncustodial parent will pay the custodial parent child support payments. These payments are to be used on expenses for the child and the custodial parent should document how this money is used. However, when both parents are joint managing conservators, many believe child support is unnecessary. While this is true in some circumstances, in others, if one parent earns more income than the other,  the higher-earning parent may be required to pay child support payments to the lesser-earning parent.

If the parents are unmarried, does paternity need to be established first?

Yes. When parents are unmarried in Texas, the child’s biological father does not have any legal rights to the child. Paternity must be established to pursue child custody or child support. There are three different ways to establish paternity:

  1. Parents can voluntarily sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP). This is a free legal document and the most common way for paternity to be established.
  2. Parents can sign a legal agreement or court order stating the identity of the child’s father. A judge will then sign this. With this option, called an agreed paternity order, parents will also agree on child custody, child support and visitation.
  3. When parents do not agree on the identity of the child’s father, a court-ordered paternity test will establish the biological father. Like the second option, this option also involves the parents deciding on child custody, child support and visitation.

What if one parent refuses to pay?

If the noncustodial parent repeatedly fails to make child support payments, they could face legal consequences such as wage withholding, license suspension, lawsuits or even jail time. In these situations, the obligee (custodial parent) has the right to pursue child support enforcement, although this usually requires obtaining a court order. An attorney could advise a parent on how to best address missed child support payments.

Have Questions? Work With Our Child Support Attorneys

Whether you want to request a child support order review, pursue enforcement or learn more about your rights as a paying or receiving party, our local legal team is here to help. Contact our law office to discuss your situation. Our attorneys will work hard to make sure that your child is financially taken care of. Contact us today by calling our Houston office at 281-975-0307 or sending us an email through our online contact form.