When it comes to practicing law, some attorneys tend not to focus on any particular area. Instead, these attorneys will focus their practice on serving clients in different areas of the law. These attorneys are known as general practitioners. There is nothing wrong with a law practice focused on many other places. However, the reality is that the skills that these attorneys may acquire during their lives representing clients in multiple regions come at the expense of not focusing their attention on the details of any one of those areas. It doesn’t matter to you if you were an attorney who has a wide variety of skills in the law. What you care about is can the attorney solve the problem that you hired them for.
However, it is not as if you will have to be surprised that your attorney is either a general practitioner or rather focuses on a specific area of the law. You will have the opportunity to Interview and get to know the attorney you plan on hiring beforehand. Indeed, before you Hire a lawyer, you should meet with them first to discuss your case, your circumstances, and any questions you may have about signing a contract with them. This will allow you to figure out how you want to proceed by hiring a lawyer. It could be that you need to hire A specific type of attorney to represent you in a very specialized case. Or, you may have other reasons to hire a lawyer who practices in multiple areas of the law. Whatever decision you make should be based on the time spent researching the attorney and learning more about that lawyer in the services they offer.
Child support and its role in a child custody case
When it comes to child support, you rarely see cases that only touch on this subject and none other. When we talk about a child support case in Texas family law, it is usually done in conjunction with the matter related to different issues in child custody such as possession, visitation, and many others. Child support plays an essential role in any child custody case due to its role in determining which parent will be the primary conservator of your child and which of you will be the non-primary parent. The non-primary parent or custodial parent will be obligated to pay child support.
Child support tends to be a contentious issue. There is always some emotion surrounding paying money to your co-parent, whether you are going through a divorce or a child custody case. It can be incredibly emotional in a divorce where you are going through the case with the motivation to end your marriage and sever the bond between you and your spouse. Child support, and co-parenting in general, is a way that you can be made to feel like you are going through the divorce continually every time that you pay child support to them.
We see this happen from time to time where one parent will insist on positioning him or herself to become the primary conservator of their children because they do not want to pay child support. It isn’t that they do not want to support their children financially. The reality is that they do not want to spend their ex-spouse or co-parent with their own money to do so. If they will have to pay a certain sum of money to their co-parent, why not just push to become the primary conservator? That way, you don’t have to pay child support, and you get more time with your kids. Here are my thoughts on this.
Make decisions that are in the best interests of your children.
In a family law case, it can be difficult to distinguish between what is in the best interests of your children and what you want to do for pride’s sake. Setting aside your satisfaction to do what is best for your kids is asking many people going through a divorce or child custody case. It is not tough to say that you are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that your children have the best of the best available to them in normal circumstances. However, when it comes to child support, child custody, or divorce case, you can get into a mindset of making the case a “you versus your co-parent” situation. This can be troublesome for a host of different reasons.
The first is that what you want to do for your pride is not always what is in the best interests of your children. Deciding to become the primary conservator of your children is a significant one to reach. You should consider the role that you have played in rearing your children to this point. Have you been the person who has taken care of the kids before bed, after they wake up and when they get home from school? Do you know their routines and care for the kids when they do not feel well? This is not a decision you should arrive at until you have given it a great degree of thought.
You and your co-parent will have ample time to work on these issues together. To be sure, family law cases usually settle outside of court more often than a judge decides them. Whether this is in mediation or informal settlement negotiations, it is not abnormal to work through these issues together with your co-parent without ever having to go inside the courtroom. However, it takes setting aside some pride and reaching a consensus based on what is in the best interests of your children. This is especially true when it comes to child support. It isn’t as if you and your co-parent can agree to pay child support to the other. One of you will be responsible for child support, and the other will receive child support. How you get to that point through negotiations will largely determine how the rest of your case will go.
Before deciding on this subject, a family court judge will likely look to your established role in parenting your children. For example, if you have primarily been the parent who cares for the children and their daily needs, it is more likely that you would continue in that role after the divorce or child custody case ends. However, it is less likely that you would take on that role if you go before a judge. The judge will be unlikely to be convinced that you are better suited to fulfill this role if it is not one that you have played thus far. What’s more- it will likely be crystal clear to a judge that you are pushing for this designation to avoid paying child support.
I am not paying child support.
If you are ordered to pay child support due to child support, child custody, or divorce case, you should make sure that you understand what your responsibilities are when it comes to paying the child support. You should participate in the drafting of the child support orders. You should review language in the order with your attorney and make sure everything is crystal clear. Ultimately you will be responsible for paying child support. Your attorney will not call and check on you the month after your divorce is over. It is your job to ensure that you get this taken care of.
That is true even if you have a wage withholding order in place that automatically takes your paycheck at the beginning of the month and distributes out the child support. Think of it this way- if you have your mortgage on an automatic draft, but the payment does not go through on the first of the month, the bank is still going to look to you for the late fee. You will not get a pass because the automatic payment did not issue as you had expected it to. Therefore you should set up an account online through the Office of the Attorney General to make sure that your account is current. If it is not, you should reach out to their office to see if they can provide you with any additional details.
Additionally, it would help if you stayed in communication with your co-parent about every issue related to your children, but especially for child support. Being on the same page with your co-parent is a great way to avoid any problems down the line regarding child support. For example, let’s say that you lose your job. Losing your job means losing your income and inheriting a list of problems from not having any income for some time. However, failing your payment does not absolve you from paying child support. If this situation were to happen to you, do you have a plan on how to act?
The first thing you should consider doing in this situation is reaching out to your co-parent. If you have problems talking with him or she, now would be a great time to try and fix that. I am not saying that it will be a great deal of fun for you to interact with your Co-parent about subject matter like this, but at the same time, it is essential to be able to have a casual relationship regarding child support. You can avoid many misunderstandings and future problems by discussing these issues. For instance, imagine a situation where you have a temporary is she with payroll at work and cannot pay child support for one month. You could reach out to your Co-parent and explain this rather than run into a situation where they will become upset with you. Laying the groundwork for communication early in a relationship can go a long way for you and your family.
Past due child support does not go away, either. The attorney general’s office can collect past two child support even after your child becomes an adult. Additionally, interest is charged on unpaid child support, which means that the amount you only get larger each month at the Child Support does not go unpaid. Even if you reach out to your co-parent and discuss a payment plan with them, it is still wise for you to consider 2 contacting the office of the attorney general to speak to them about this subject as well.
What can happen if your child comes to live with you?
It sometimes happens that your child may end up coming to live with you full time for several reasons. Your Co-parent could be having issues in terms of their physical and mental health, or there may be another reason why your children should come live with you on a full-time basis. Whatever the circumstances, maybe you should consider the impacts of your child living with you full time regarding child support. Do not assume that the attorney general’s office will automatically credit you for this time. Instead, you must be proactive and reach out to them if you want to be credited for child support paid while your child is living with you full time.
When you contact the attorney general’s office, you can create a request where you will be designated as the primary conservator of your child. This could temporarily halt your responsibility to pay child support. Any child support paid during this period could be looked at; there’s a credit on any past due to child support you may owe. This does not mean that you will be absolved of paying child support in the future. For any official change in your need to pay child support, you would have to contact your family court and petition for a modification of your child custody orders. Suppose your child has lived with you for an extended period. In that case, the best change could be regarding updating your designation as conservator of your children and being named as primary conservator. This would do away with the responsibility to pay child support. Note that you must go through these steps for any legal removal of child support. Otherwise, your obligation to pay child support would still be in place.
What should you do if you want to open a child support case?
Even a noncustodial parent can open a child support case. You can do so through the office of the attorney general’s website, or you can partition the family court for your county to begin that process. Your case will be scheduled for a negotiation conference with your other parent. These conferences typically occur outside of court in a field office for the attorney general’s office. Here you will be in a lower-pressure environment where you and your spouse or Co-parent will hopefully be able to negotiate through the issues of child support, child custody, and visitation. I had seen people reach agreements here when they otherwise had not been able to.
If you cannot reach any settlement with your Co-parent, then your case will be set for a court date to go before a judge. The information that will be utilized to determine the amount of child support that you or your Co-parent will be ordered to pay is based on the Texas State child support guidelines. 20% of your net monthly income would go towards child support payments. This is for one child. For each additional child before the court, the percentage would go up 5% until at most 50% of your net monthly income would go towards child support each month.
Not working does not allow you not to pay child support. In this case, you will be assessed child support based on minimum wage if no information can be provided regarding child support earnings. As a result, you are best served to bring any documentation you can, including pay stubs and tax returns, when attending one of these hearings with the judge.
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 an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.