If you are a parent who is going through a divorce or child custody case, then you are probably aware that there is an obligation for you in Texas to support your children from a financial perspective. This obligation stems from the duties that you owe to your child as a conservator. A conservator is charged with making decisions and caring for another person. When we talk about you being the conservator of your children that means you have rights and duties about them that you must exercise. That responsibility continues after a divorce or child custody case. The only difference between before and after her case is that you will have those rights and duties laid out for you on a piece of paper called child custody or divorce order. 

Child support is one of the most contentious issues in a divorce or child custody case. While many people know that Child support is typically a part of a divorce or child custody case most do not know the details surrounding these payments. For example, you may know that child support is paid once a month but do not know how much money will have to be paid most likely, for how long, or what child support is supposed to cover. Additionally, did you know that medical and dental support is now required to be provided by one parent or the other after child support, custody, or divorce case? These are the sort of questions that you will have to answer on behalf of your child in your custody or divorce case.

The state of Texas also encourages parents like you and your spouse to agree on the amount of child support that should be paid. Part of the reason why mediation is required by most family law courts is to put you and your Co-parent in a position where you all have to negotiate with one another rather than necessarily rely upon a family court judge to make a decision. Negotiation between the two of you usually leads to outcomes that are more equitable and beneficial for your child when compared to relying upon a family court judge. For that reason, you are better off negotiating and preparing for negotiations with your Co-parent rather than assuming your case will go to a trial.

It is also possible for the Child Support that you agree to with your spouse or Co-parent to be zero or close to zero. There is no requirement within the Texas family code that any certain amount of child support is paid. True, there is a guideline amount of child support based on a set of factors in a mathematical equation. However, that is for anyone who chooses to utilize it. On the other hand, you can utilize any method you choose of paying child support so long as the two of you agree to it, the judge agrees it is in the best interest of your child and it is worded in your child support order.

The big thing at this point to mention is that collecting information is the best route that you can take in terms of determining how to structure child support in your circumstances. Rather than going into negotiations with little to no information, you can use blog posts like this one and any other source that you can get your hands on to negotiate child support. The more you know the better you will be able to negotiate in the better position you will be able to put your children in. Not understanding the basics about Texas child support means that you cannot tell whether your spouse is being unreasonable or reasonable with you.

The information that we provide in this blog post is intended to apply to a wide range of audiences. With that said, if you have questions about the material that we have covered in today’s blog post I recommend that you 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 about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

What exactly is child support? 

In a Texas divorce or child custody case it is usually the non-custodial or non-primary parent who ends up paying the other parent a certain sum of money every month. This sum of money is intended to supplement what the other parent already contributes from their income to help pay your child’s expenses and take care of your child during that month. However, even though both you and your Co-parent must support your child there is nothing in the Texas family code that specifies a certain amount of child support that must be paid. Rather, the law in Texas provides you ample opportunity to negotiate for a certain amount of child support before a trial. If you are unable to conclude on the amount of child support to pay with your Co-parent then a family court judge will listen to testimony, consider other forms of evidence and make a decision about child support. 

Child support is not intended to allow your child to maintain the lifestyle that they had become accustomed to while you and your spouse or Co-parent were living together. Two incomes are more than one period your child may have to get used to a different sort of lifestyle now that you and your spouse or splitting up. However, that does not mean that your child will have to go without the basics in life. That is what child support is supposed to be able to cover. Namely, your child’s basic, minimum needs for things like food, shelter, clothing, and education are supposed to be covered by you and your co-parent. In addition, medical and dental insurance is now included in these lists of necessary items that child support is supposed to supplement. 

If your child is not going without any of these items, then your Co-parent who receives the Child Support can spend the Child Support on whatever he or she chooses. There is no accounting or oversight of the money once it leaves your bank account and goes to your Co-parents. So long as your child’s minimum, basic needs are met then your Co-parent is under no obligation to anyone to disclose how that money is being spent. Thank you, of course, we hear about parents supposedly spending child support money on forever list things like clothes and jewelry but there are a couple of points here that I would like to make to you regarding that subject. 

First off, child support is very rarely a humongous sum of money. We will briefly go over what child support ends up being for most families but for the most part, child support is a relatively modest amount of money. Therefore, the idea that your Co-parent will be pocketing this money for their benefit is probably not accurate. Rather, I have child support that you pay will likely go towards the direct expenses related to your child. At worst, you can expect Child Support or go to pay things like your child rent or other costs that may not directly relate to your child but are important to him or her. We can look to rent is typically code by your code in it it is still important to note that your child benefits from having a roof over his or her head.

This is especially true if you have a child who is a teenager or at least is involved in things like extracurricular activities. Think about all the costs associated with your child if he or she attends a private school, daycare, takes tutoring or private lessons for music, or even has braces or other medical needs. An average amount of child support for one child in Texas is a drop in the bucket in terms of these overall costs. Before you get upset at the idea of having to send your Co-parent money for these items you should consider that it is likely that he or she very much uses that money to pay for these kinds of basic deadly expenses for your period.

Must it be the case for only one parent pays child support? 

It is not necessarily true that only one parent must pay child support. Rather, it is possible for you and your Co-parent to both agree to pay child support until your child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. The Child Support guidelines outlined in the Texas family code are a minimum and not a maximum standard of support that the state of Texas and a family court judge will presume is in your child’s best interest. Between you and your Co-parent, you all can figure out whatever method of child support payment works best for your family.

It may be that you and your family believe that an additional sum or amount of child support needs to be paid each month this could be due to your child having an educational or medical need that you know must be paid regularly. This is why I said at the beginning of today’s blog post that specific circumstances of your family must be taken into account. You and your Co-parent, for example, may decide to have child support be the number that is the difference between what you would pay in child support and what your Co-parent would pay based on your incomes. Therefore, if your incomes are relatively close together the amount of child support you end up paying may be relatively small.

The method that you choose to utilize as far as how child support is paid is up to you as well. Child support can be paid and an annuity, through a property settlement of some sort, in a lump sum or in installments that your employer will take directly out of your paycheck. This is done through a wage withholding order which is signed into effect by a family court judge after your case. You must get this done after your case because it is more difficult to complete this action once a case is over with.

One important thing to note in this circumstance is that child support payments only count if you make those payments through the office of the attorney general. The office of the attorney general child support division is the intermediary that will work with you and your Co-parent and ensure that a proper record of child support is kept. Therefore, it is imperative that you make your payments in the method agreed to in your final decree of divorce or child custody orders. 

If you choose to pay your child support in another method, such as directly to your Co-parent, you Did not get credit for these payments. These are known as informal child support payments and do not go down on the Ledger of Payments on your official record. This is important because if there is any discrepancy or disagreement in the future about child support then you will not get the benefit of the doubt on your child support installment page. Therefore, I recommend that you make payments to your co-parent through the office of the Attorney-general. To do any other way is a risk that you need not take that can come back to harm you.

What is medical support, and do you have to pay it as a part of child support?

Since 2018, Texas parents are required to provide medical support in addition to child support in a divorce or child custody case. This includes dental support, as well. Whoever will be paying child support, you, or your Co-parent, is required to provide medical and dental coverage for your child if it is available to you at a reasonable cost. Health insurance is available at a reasonable cost if the cost of the health insurance for all your children is no more than 9% of Your annual resources. If dent Insurance is not available to you had a reasonable cost of 1.5% of your annual resources, then it is not your responsibility of yours to necessarily pay.

If the medical support and dental support costs for you and your family are not reasonable then your Co-parent will be ordered to provide the medical-dental coverage if it is available to him or her at a reasonable cost. The same calculation that applied to you will also apply to your Co-parent. If neither of you has access to private health and dental insurance that’ll be a reasonable cost, then your Co-parent would need to apply for benefits under government medical assistance programs and will order you to pay cash medical support to your Co-parent. 

The final step in this process will be determining how you and your Co-parent will divide up costs associated with medical and dental care which are not covered by insurance period invariably, you and your Co-parent will run into situations where health insurance in dental insurance does not cover every expense for your child. This is the circumstance where the two of you will need to figure out how to divide those costs up between the two of you. You may choose to divide those costs according to your income where the person who earns more money will be responsible for bearing more of a burden of these uninsured costs. Other times you all may choose to simply split the costs down the middle to pay them in a 50/50 fashion. Whatever you choose to do it is recommended that you clearly outlined what the expectations are in your court order. The last thing you want to do is to go through an entire divorce or child custody case and have it be unclear who has to pay for what regarding this important subject.

Child support can be tricky and somewhat emotionally taxing in terms of needing to figure out who is going to pay what and how costs associated with medical care will be divided. This is an important subject for you to get right and it can be extremely helpful to have someone by your side who has gone through the process with other people before. For that reason, I always recommend people who have children higher and experienced family law tended to help guide them in their case. While there are no surefire guarantees of success in a divorce or child custody case one method, I’ve seen work for many people is to hire an experienced family law attorney.

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 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.