Being a parent is one of the most wonderful things in the world, but the job also comes with a host of responsibilities and obligations.
One such responsibility is that of providing for your child financially.
Married parents that live together are presumably both raising a child together. When divorced parents raise a child, providing financial care for a child can become more complicated. As such, Texas courts typically require one parent to make ongoing, recurrent child support payments to the other.
Here’s a look into what you need to know about Texas child support laws.
The Non-Custodial Parent Is the Parent Who Must Pay Child Support
The first important thing to know about child support is establishing who will pay child support.
Child support laws in Texas presume that a parent who has physical custody of a child is already providing for that child financially. Therefore, it is the non-custodial parent who is liable for regular child support payments.
But, all parents are responsible for providing for their children financially, regardless of income or custody arrangement.
In the event that you are a mother who has custody of your child and need to receive child support from the child’s father, you must first establish paternity of the child. The court will not order a (male) party to pay child support without a paternity test.
How Much Child Support Do Parents Pay?
To calculate child support, the court takes into account the non-custodial parent’s income and the number of children the parent is responsible for.
For example, a non-custodial parent with one child will be responsible for allocating 20% of their monthly net income towards child support. A parent with two children will need to allocate 25% of their monthly net income towards child support, etc.
How Do I Open a Child Support Case?
The first step in a child support case is, as mentioned above, establishing paternity.
If the child was born at a time when their biological parents were not married (and therefore paternity of the child was not automatically established), parents can both sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form. If both parents are not in agreement about paternity, either parent may petition the court.
After the court confirms paternity, a child support and child custody case can open.
Working with an experienced Texas child support attorney can help. If you do not want to work with an attorney, you can open a case yourself on the Office of the Attorney General’s website or by calling the office directly and requesting an application.
Ideally, you and your child’s other parent will come to an agreement about a custody arrangement and a support amount. If you cannot do so, then your case will be set for court. At this point, hiring a lawyer is highly recommended if you have not already done so.
Modifying a Child Support Order
If you have a child support order, knowing how to modify a court order may be important at some point.
You can seek modification of a child support order by petitioning the court. You cannot simply stop making payments or make payments in a different amount because your circumstances have changed. This is a violation of Texas child support payment laws and your court order, and can result in penalty.
If you have a “material and significant” change in circumstance, such as a loss of a job, a change in the amount of time you spend with your child, etc. you must petition the court for modification.
If you and your child’s other parent are not in agreement about the modification, then you must head to court where a judge will decide your case.
What You Need to Know About Making Child Support Payments
If you have an existing child support order that mandates that you pay a certain amount at a certain time each month, it is critical that you adhere to this order.
The simplest way to make child support payments is asking your employer to take the payment out of your paycheck every month.
However, you can also pay by check or money order. You will make the payments to the State Disbursement Unit, not to your child’s other parent.
It is important to remember that you are liable for the full payment amount each month. If you cannot pay the full amount, you should still pay as much as possible.
However, the amount that you owe will not go away. Instead, the Office of the Attorney General will collect past-due support with interest. If you don’t pay, payment may be collected by garnishment of your wages, garnishment of your tax return, placing a lien against your assets, and other penalties.
How Can Working with a Lawyer Help Me?
Working with a family law attorney can guide you in understanding and navigating child support laws in Texas, how child support works in Texas, and your rights and obligations in regards to child support. This is true whether you are a custodial or a non-custodial parent.
An attorney can also help you to establish paternity over your child, seek custody of your child if you desire to do so, or seek modification of a court order at a later date.
If you are behind on payments or have not received the child support you owe, a lawyer can also advise you regarding what steps to take next.
Call the Tidwell Law Firm, PLLC For More Help with Texas Child Support Laws
At the Tidwell Law Firm, PLLC, we care about you and your child support case. If you have questions, we are available to provide you with the answers that you need.
To schedule a consultation with our law office, please call us today or send us a message directly. We will advocate for you!