As a family law attorney, one of the questions that I am frequently asked in regards to child support is how difficult is it for a parent to sue their co-parent for the past two child support. When it comes to child support there are two parts of the equation. The first part is being able to have child support ordered for you to receive. In the other part of that equation, there’s two be in a position where child support is received by you. This is where the trouble lies. The order that promises you child support is only as effective as it pertains to getting you the money. Without an effective court order, the money you receive or don’t receive is worthless.
In a child support situation, most people that I have worked with as clients will be focused on life after the case where they will be attempting to collect child support. Very few people enter into a case with the thought of negotiating and drafting the best possible order for their family when it comes to collecting Child Support in the first place. Again, you can have an order that says whatever you want but until that order puts you in a position to receive child support it is not an effective piece of paper. The order is only as valuable as your ability to enforce the order if your Co-parent does not pay you the Child Support owed to you. Bear in mind, that it is not at all uncommon to be denied payment of child support. Whether or not it becomes a habitual problem for your family here is another subject altogether.
I wanted to spend some time discussing with you how to draft an order that will best ensure that you receive the Child Support that you are entitled to. There is no foolproof plan for receiving child support. There are no guarantees in this subject just like there are no guarantees in life. However, what I would tell you is that you can take steps to improve your position as it relates to the receipt of child support. That discussion hinges on the enforceability in the drafting of your court order. what we need to understand is how to get from point A to point B if point a is a well-drafted order in point B is getting child support in your pocket.
What should you look for when drafting a child support order?
When it comes to having a child support order drafted that is well worded and enforceable the first thing that I would look to is whether or not the language is clear and concise. Using excess words and convoluted phrasing in any part of a court order can be disastrous. The reason for this is that your Co-parent must be able to clearly understand the court order for it to be enforceable should he or she not pay you the Child Support. The more confusing or convoluted a court order is the better argument your Co-parent has that he or she could not understand its contents. So, it would make a lot of sense for you to be able to take the time necessary to make sure your court order is clear and concise. Sometimes, less is more I want it comes to child support language in a court order.
Next, I would want to make sure that the order reflects either what the judge outlined in his or her rulings from a trial or mirror the agreement in your mediated settlement agreement. You cannot simply copy and paste a judge’s rulings or your mediated settlement agreement into your child support orders. Rather, you must translate the language of the judge’s rulings or mediated settlement agreement and place that into a court order. This can take a good deal of skill and is not something that you should take lightly. The last thing you want is to have court orders that are signed off on by you and your Co-parent which do not look like what you agreed to in mediation or what the judge told you to include in your orders. Ultimately it is the court order and not any other document that will determine what becomes enforceable by a court in the future.
Next, you should make sure that you have read through any proposed orders before signing off on anything. The best way to do this would be for you to go over your final decree of divorce or child custody orders with your attorney in their office together. Simply opening up an attachment to an email and looking over your papers while watching a ball game is not good enough. I will not argue with you that reading through an entire court order is not the most fun in the world. However, when the consequences for not doing so are significant you need to consider what it can mean to not have those orders in place correctly. Take the time to review every word of the document before you sign. Ask questions if there is something included that you do not understand.
Above all else, what you can do to ensure that you have an enforceable court order is to have an experienced family law attorney by your side. While spending money on a lawyer isn’t the most fun you can have with money think of it as a short-term investment into your long-term future. There are few things that you can do that will actively improve the trajectory of your case more so than hiring an experienced family law attorney not only to negotiate child support orders but to review and draft the orders themselves. So much can be lost in translation when it comes to court orders of this sort.
You do not want to be in a position where you spend a good deal of time and effort negotiating through court orders only to find that what ends up on paper does not reflect your wishes or that of your Co-parent. There are no guarantees in a family law case but you can best ensure your overall success by negotiating through issues with an attorney and then working with your attorney to draft sound and well-constructed court orders.
Enforcing a child support order
So far we have spent a significant amount of time discussing the subject of child support. Like any other subject in family law child support in and of itself, it’s not that interesting until something occurs where child support does not transmit from one parent to the other. If things work the way they are supposed to then this is not an interesting subject to write about. However, it is the fact that child support is so frequently Not received on time or in full that makes it something worthy of a blog post like this.
After having worked with so many families Who have been stressed to the Max as a result of child support issues I can tell you that few subjects in family law are as difficult to deal with as child support. I think a lot of that has to do with the human reaction of placing trust In a person that you naturally would not want to trust. You already feel like you are in a position of weakness when you have to rely upon a parent for income and possibly even for survival. Suppose that you have been a stay-at-home mother for many years and after the divorce, you are now being asked to re-enter the workforce, return to school, or some combination of the two. It is probably disheartening to understand that your immediate life after your divorce case will be spent relying in large part on child support to get by. The thought of having your Co-parents go back in their word and not pay your child support is extremely frustrating and downright scary to think about.
This is why the ability to enforce a child support order is so important period in an enforcement lawsuit you will have to specify the exact number of instances child support was not paid on time or not paid in full. You will have to point to the specific language contained in your child support order that was violated by your Co-parent. Finally, it is wise 2 bring this lawsuit as early as you can to nip the problem in the bud. You can hope against hope that your Co-parent will begin to pay child support on time and in full. However, I can tell you that hoping that something will change in a family lowercase is not a recipe for success. Rather, you have to assert your rights and then attempt to enforce them in a courtroom
Bear in mind that you still have a responsibility to support your child
Before we discuss the ability of a child to sue apparent for back child support, I wanted to make note that you still have a duty to support your child even though you are receiving child support and are the custodial parent. With that child support, you must be able to utilize that money in a way that benefits your child. Child support is not intended for you to make purchases for yourself, update your home, or purchase your small business. Rather, child support is intended to support your child. And
An argument that I hear from noncustodial parents all the time is that there should be a mechanism for paying the support directly to your children. They will argue that it does not make sense to put a middleman in this in between them and their children. On some levels, this makes a great deal of sense. however, bear in mind that your child is just that: a child. He or she cannot be trusted to utilize money in any responsible way. We barely trust our children to cross the street without holding our hand. In what way would it make sense to be able to pay money directly to a child. He or she has little autonomy over themself and simply cannot own property.
Child support at its core seeks to be able to strike a balance between you and your Co-parent in terms of bearing the burden of the financial responsibilities that come with raising your children. Because to deal parent owns the children much more frequently than the noncustodial parent. Along with that increased time of possession comes issues associated with costs not being borne equally across the board. Child support is intended to make life a little bit more fair in this regard. The circumstances of every family may be slightly different but at their core child support is intended to be able to make life more equitable for both parents in terms of raising a child and taking care of the costs associated with raising a child.
More information about filing a lawsuit as a child for back child support
If your Co-parent does not pay their full amount of child support on time then the arrears of child support will grow over time. These arrears or otherwise known as back child support. As the parent who is supposed to be paid the Child Support, you can go back to court to seek a court order that awards you a certain amount of those arrearages. The argument would stand in some states that back child support can even be paid to adult children in the form of a gift as a result of one of these lawsuits.
However, in Texas, an adult child does not have the right to be able to go back to court to sue their parent for unpaid child support. In other words, your adult child with LAX standing to be able to file a lawsuit in the first place. However, you should check with your attorney to discuss you are right to be able to file a lawsuit for back child support. This would cover a situation where you failed to immediately bring a lawsuit to recover back child support and rather wait for years after The Child Support comes too and even after your child becomes an adult. new
Specifically, if there is already a court order in place that awards you child support then you need to know that you do have a fairly long period and by which you can file a lawsuit for back child support. Although that period is lengthy it is not indefinite or unlimited. This would suggest that you need to strike while the iron is hot and reinforces the point that I made earlier that once you discover that a fairly substantial amount of child support is already owed to you you should file the lawsuit. Doing so will protect your rights under the Texas family code.
The lawn Texas is that the statute of limitations for seeking back child support with the court order in place is from 10 years after your child’s 18th birthday. Essentially, you have until your child turns 28 years old to file a lawsuit to recover back child support. Your failure to do so may result in your not being able to recover any money for back child support.
On the other hand, if there is not already an existing child support order that doesn’t mean that your Co-parent can simply stop making child support payments or never make them in the first place. In that case, child support is still owed even without a court document that forces him or her to do so. With all that being said, you would only have four years after your child’s 18th birthday in a case where you do not have a valid court order already.
When it comes to retroactive child support, most Texas courts presume that the total amount of child support that will be awarded will not exceed the amount that would have been doing over the prior four years. If a child support order had been in place. You would need to be able to present that your Co-parent intentionally tried to avoid paying child support. In that case, if successfully proven you may be able to sue for back child support after the expiration of four years even if there is no court order in place.
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 consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These free-of-charge consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.