One of the most contentious issues in a Texas divorce or child custody case is child support. Although child support is based upon a set of guidelines created by the Texas family code there are emotional and financial issues that arise with this subject that can be extremely stressful for families like yours who are going through difficult circumstances regarding family law-related matters. In large part, these are subjects invited to a lack of trust between parents and the ever-changing needs of children. For you to be able to go through the said painted divorce or child custody case you need to be able to understand the shortcomings are child support and how you may be able to overcome those shortcomings in your family law case.
For starters, discussing child support means you are talking about financial issues. Talking about money one money is probably never been tighter for your family is not easy. Right now I’m thinking about many of the families that our law office helps it has helped over the past few years in the struggles that they have gone through to provide for their families all trying to work and complete their family law case. This is not an easy thing to do and I certainly give you and your family a great deal of credit in attempting to do both. Sometimes the sacrifices we make in the short term can be beneficial in the long term period even when it doesn’t feel like it in the present.
Another issue that families often encounter in regards to child support relates to and unease of paying your Co-parent money that is not intended to benefit them personally. Ostensibly, child support is to benefit your child and not your Co-parent. A reason that you would pay your Co-parenting not directly is that children cannot receive money in this way in Texas. As a result, each month you will be responsible for paying your Co-parent sums of money. This sounds a little uncomfortable that’s because it is. Many parents express misgivings about doing so even though they understand that the purpose of making these child support payments is to benefit their child.
Otherwise, there are problems, in my opinion with how child support works about Texas families and Texas family law cases. In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I am going to discuss some of those problems as I see them and how they may impact you and your family. In addition, I would like to also discuss how you can circumvent certain issues related to child support before they become ones that can harm you and your family both in the short and long terms.
Child support can create financial burdens for a parent
When I talk about something being a financial burden I do not mean that children or are burdensome nor do I mean that a parent should not have any financial stakes when it comes to raising their children. What I mean is that the way child support law is handled can become burdensome for many parents in our state especially when and if those parents cannot see their children all that often.
For example, I have worked with many parents who have been denied Visitation and possession of their children over time by their Co-parent. The reason for this denial could be anything under the sun. There are usually a handful of reasons offered by these parents. However, the result is that you may be put in a position after a family law case where you are unable to spend as much time with your children as your court order would allow you to.
This can be extremely frustrating given that your need to pay child support does not end just because you are being denied Visitation or possession by a Co-parent. Just as your need to be able to see your children does not end just because of the failure to pay child support, you would still be responsible for paying child support no matter what else is going on with custody of your kids. This puts you as a parent in a precarious situation.
On the one hand, you are obligated to pay child support to a parent who is simultaneously denying you Visitation and possession. It can feel like you are losing 2 battles at one time by having to pay child support while not getting any time with your kids. I think it is perfectly reasonable to not feel happy or that you are treated fairly in a circumstance like this. The law does not allow you to stop paying child support for this reason. Essentially, your Co-parent can have their cake and eat it too while you are suffering from the and results of that type of situation.
In a way, this is understandable. What the state is trying to prevent is a situation where you stop paying child support and your Co-parent stops allowing you to see your children. This would result in a standoff of sorts where both parties could end up harming one another a great deal. Meanwhile, your children are caught in the middle of their two parents who are having custody and support issues between themselves. Although this is an understandable situation to want to avoid, I think having to pay child support despite any circumstance going on around you can be harmful. The idea that you should pay child support into perpetuity when you are not able to see your child for cause is beyond your control seems to be a weak point in the Child Support system.
Another way that this situation is harmful to families is that by continuing to need to pay child support despite your possession and Visitation rights being violated is that you likely do not have the funds available to bring Anne enforcement lawsuits. An enforcement lawsuit is a legal mechanism available to you if you seek to enforce your court-ordered rights and duties.
However, even if you choose not to hire an attorney to represent you in one of these cases it will still cost you money to file the case. When you are submitting hundreds if not thousands of dollars per month in child support then you cut out a huge chunk of the population who would not have sufficient funds to pay for an enforcement case on top of the burdensome costs associated with child support. This is a situation that is unduly burdensome for the exact population that the laws aimed to protect.
Child support as a means have permanent financial assistance
One of the uncomfortable aspects of family law representation is having to come face to face with parents who may not have the best interest of their child at heart when it comes to their daily decision-making. Even though most of us parents make decisions that are almost completely geared towards the benefit of our children the reality is that some parents make decisions color geared towards their benefit. Regarding child support, it is not uncommon to see parents, many times mothers, who seek to take advantage of the Child Support system by setting themselves up with payments of child support with the little benefit going to the children.
These are parents that are very astute in having child support orders issued against their children’s fathers but too little daily to use that money to benefit their children directly. These parents instead use child support payments to benefit their own lives in a material sense. I do not mean that most or even some parents engage in this type of behavior. However, the reality is that not every parent acts with the explicit best interest of their children at heart in all their actions. As a result, we end up in circumstances where parents use one another for material gain rather than as a method to benefit the lives of their kids.
Child support guidelines versus the actual proven needs of raising children
the texas family code contains guidelines for how child support should be calculated if you and your Co-parent cannot agree on this subject. These guidelines take a percentage and multiply it against your net monthly income. This amount would be your child support obligation every month. With one child before the court, you would be expected to pay 20% of your net monthly income in child support. For two children, the amount would go up to 25%. The percentages increase up and until you reach 50% of your net monthly income going towards child support.
From a mathematical and rational perspective, this method may make sense but the reality is that raising children considers costs that do not go into child support calculations. Child support may not even begin to scrape the basics of raising a child when it comes to costs. This is especially true if you’re Co-parent has a relatively small net monthly income and therefore contributes very little financially to your child when the children are in their possession but also contributes very little to the child in child support.
Texas family law attempts to protect primary conservators from Co-parents who may be purposefully under-employed or unemployed. That would describe a situation where you have a Co-parent who is purposefully not working or purposefully earning less money to be obligated to pay less in child support. However, the system is not perfect in it is possible that parents are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to receiving child support that is less than what they ought to receive.
To avoid finding yourself in a situation where you are receiving less child support than you ought to I would recommend that you and your attorney do as much work and perform as much due diligence as possible when it comes to determining what your coherence actual net monthly income is this doesn’t just mean taking the information he or she provides you with at face value and doing the basic calculations for child support from that. Rather, this means doing the legwork necessary to determine all streams of income for your Co-parent. For example, does your Co-parent work multiple jobs? Does he or she have multiple side hustles? Do they have investment income or other types of money coming in that you may not be aware of?
This type of information can be gathered In discovery as a means to double-check the information that you think you have. While you can be able to go back and modify awards of child support in the future the reality is that it is easier to get it right the first time and not have to risk going back to file a modification in the future. There is no guarantee you will be able to go back and modify an award of child support that was based on error. Additionally, there is no telling that some circumstances may change in the future that changes the Child Support obligation dramatically one way or the other.
What can you do to avoid problems regarding child support in a child custody or divorce case?
Unless we can answer this question then today’s blog posts will have only been spent talking about the downsides and negatives of child support. We need to be able to take these justified critiques of child support and apply them to your life to help you walk through problems that you may be facing in your own life. Namely, how can you avoid issues regarding child support by understanding the system’s shortcomings in using that information to your advantage?
For starters, I would make the obligations surrounding child support abundantly clear as contained in your final decree of divorce or your child custody orders. You cannot enforce an order that is vague or unclear as to its meaning. Therefore, you must review your court orders before signing them in a divorce or child custody case. Make sure that everyone’s responsibilities are clearly outlined. If your Co-parent can successfully argue that he or she was unaware of what their obligations were under the Child Support orders then you have yourself an order that cannot be enforced. This means it is not worth the paper that is printed on.
Next, I would do everything you can to maintain they strong civil relationship with your Co-parent. I am not saying that you and your Co-parent need to be best friends but I am saying that a little understanding and grace with one another can go a long way towards avoiding huge problems. I typically find that the lesser relationship two people have after a family law case the greater chance there is for arguments that are rather small to be made into very big deals.
If you and your Co-parent can work together to solve little problems before they become big problems then you were off to a good start. I can’t promise you that all issues relevant to your family law case can be avoided by being civil with one another but I cannot think of a better place to start. Learning to treat the other person with respect is probably the simplest way to get this started. Even if you and your Co-parent have had problems with this subject in the past you can make a promise to one another that the family law case will be the start of a new beginning for both of you.
Finally, I think that having an experienced family law attorney during a family law or divorce case can be a tremendous advantage in a child custody or divorce case. For one, a family law attorney will help you to think 3/4 and five steps ahead in the process. Although there may not be an issue with what you are negotiating upon in your current case, a family law attorney will help you understand the effects of what you were negotiating on for years into the future. This can help a great deal to avoid missteps that may impact your life down the line.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
Thank you for your interest in our law office and we hope that you will join us again tomorrow as we continue to share relevant and informational blog posts on Texas family law and Texas probate law. Our attorneys are inside the family courts of southeast Texas everyday representing clients and we look forward to the opportunity to do the same for you and your family.