Of all the topics in a Texas child custody case, the one which is oftentimes the most contentious and emotional is the termination of child support. This is a topic where so much goes into the discussion that has nothing to do with the actual money involved. When we talk about child support, we are discussing the entirety of a child custody case. The reason for this is that how child support is paid, who pays it, and who receives it is determined by the outcomes of other areas of your case. For that reason, before we can even begin to discuss how child support is calculated in Texas, we need to discuss how the details of child support are arrived at in order so that the discussion of how child support is calculated even begins to make sense.

Determining who pays child support

In most Texas child custody cases one parent ends up paying child support while the other parent ends up receiving child support. In Texas, parents have an obligation under the law to support their children financially. One of the major points correct of a Texas child custody case is that a family court judge will determine the conservatorships rules for parents like you and your Co-parent. This begins and ends with determining which of you will become the primary conservator of your children. 

The primary conservator of your children will hold most of the cards when it comes to being able to spend the most time with your children and hold the most rights to your children regarding decision-making capabilities. Well, most parents understandably are concerned with the time aspects of a Texas child custody case I think it is a good idea for you to think not only about the time but the rights and duties of a parent. Being able to make decisions on behalf of your child and have a say in matters related to their health and education specifically are a big deal. It is a good idea to keep these issues in mind as you begin to negotiate in your divorce or child custody case.

Probably the most contentious issue in a divorce or child custody case, other than child support itself, is that of determining which parent will become the primary conservator of your child. The primary Conservatory of your child, among other things, can determine the primary residence of your child. This means that the primary conservator gets to live with your child on a full-time basis. This does not mean that your child will spend all their time with his parent it’s just that during the school year your child will spend the night at this parents’ house. With that right comes the ability to spend more of the year with one parent than the other. I think a general breakdown in a typical divorce or child custody case is that your child will spend 55% of their year with the primary conservator as opposed to the non-primary conservator. 

Since there is a substantial difference in the amount of time that your child will spend with both parents then it should come as no surprise that it is the non-primary conservator that ends up paying child support to the primary conservator. This is done to even up the overall costs associated with raising your child. Bear in mind that it is the primary conservator who frequently must pay costs associated with field trips, extracurricular activities, random doctor visits, and other costs out of their pocket. The nonprimary Conservatory typically has weekend time with the children when these types of activities are not ongoing. As a result, the typical setup in Texas is that the nonprimary conservator pays child support to the primary conservator monthly. Usually, this is done through a wage withholding order that is sent to the non-primary parents’ employer where that employer will withhold a certain sum of money each month to be paid to the office of the attorney general to satisfy the Child Support obligation.

So, since we are not only dealing with issues regarding money and time with your children the subject of conservatorships is a big one in a divorce or child custody case. It is not surprising that many parents end up spending most of their time and money in a divorce or child custody case on this subject. You will collect evidence, negotiate strongly in multiple mediation sessions, and could even attend a trial to become the primary conservator of your children. Even then, the designation of a primary conservator can change over time specifically if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances that justifies a modification of the prior child custody orders. 

However, for today’s blog post we will not be speaking about modifying child support necessarily. Our focus is going to be on how you and your Co-parent will determine who ends up paying child support in the first place. Usually, this is done through negotiation with one another. One of the big misnomers about Texas child support situations is that it is usually the judge who ends up deciding about who pays what as far as child support is concerned. this could not be further from the truth. In the vast majority of Texas child custody and divorce cases it is you and your Co-parent who end up determining these designations yourself through negotiation. This can be done through informal settlement negotiations between the two of you and your attorneys or in a more formal setting like mediation. However, it is not a family court judge who ultimately will make this decision likely for you and your spouse. You two are allowed to negotiate on this issue as much as possible.

Do you pay child support directly to your co-parent?

Let’s assume that you are the parent who is named as the non-primary conservator. This could be because you have a job that requires you to work odd hours. If you must be at a hospital to work your shift as a nurse in the middle of the night, then you probably wouldn’t be the ideal primary conservator. This is not a slight on you as a parent- it’s just an acknowledgment of your circumstances. 

If we assume further that you are going to be the parrot who ends up having to pay child support, then you should become familiar with the process of making sure that your payments are received on time and in full by your Co-parent. Even though it is your Co-parent that stands to benefit from your child support payments remember that it is your child who is intended to be the primary beneficiary. With that said, you will want to make sure that your child can receive these payments so that there is no interruption to their daily lives when it comes to financial issues.

Many people assume that child support payments are made by writing a check or even dropping off cash with a Co-parent. After all: this may have been the method that you and your Co-parent used for many years to pay child support before you came to family court. It may have been customary for you two to have a checkbook in the car and just write checks for your child to play intermediary between you and your Co-parent. However, this is not the method of payment that family courts will recommend that you utilize. The courts will be very clear that these are known as informal child support payments. Informal child support payments are not honored by the office of the attorney general. This means that if you check your account online that you will get no credit for having made these informal child support payments. For that reason, you will want to make sure that you understand how these payments are it can be made to your Co-parent.

The subject of child support payments themselves typically begins with a wage withholding order. A wage withholding order is something that is completed at the end of divorce for a child custody pace. Case. The end of a child custody case or divorce sees you as the paying parent providing your employer’s information to your spouse and their attorney. A wage withholding order will specify the amount of child support to be paid each month. The judge will sign the wage withholding order in the order will be sent to your employer. Your human resources department or office that handles Your wages well then needs to honor the order and see to it that your paycheck is deducted a certain amount of money each month to satisfy the Child Support obligation. 

From there, the payment will go to the office of the attorney general. The office of the attorney general will then deposit that money into an account for your Co-parent. This is the way that child support is typically paid after a child custody or divorce case. Although it may seem like this is a more complicated method of having these child support payments be made there are advantages both for you and for your Co-parent. Let’s walk through those advantages now so that you can better understand these methods and how they stand to benefit you and your family.

First, you are benefited because there will never be any question of how much money you have paid or how much money you still need to pay if you make your payments through the office of the attorney general. As we have already covered, there is a list in a ledger of the payments you have made, and everyone has access to it. You will not be in a position where your Co-parent will ever be able to quit questioning the amount of money that you have paid or try to make it seem like you owe money. All you would need to say is to look at your Ledger on the office of the attorney general’s website to determine that you have not missed any payments. This increases the peace at home and makes it less likely that there will be any disagreements that lead to bigger arguments between you and your Co-parent.

Another benefit to the Child Support system is that you will be able to be a position where there is never any doubt about how much money you must pay each month so long as you are making sure that your automatic payments are made each month it is not as if your Co-parent can tell you that more money is needed based on this or that factor. I’ve worked with many parents in my time as an attorney who has told me that their Co-parent would commonly tell them that the amount of child support would need to change periodically due to any number of factors.

there is no doubt that the needs of a family may change from time to time based on certain circumstances the reality is that it puts you in a tough position as far as creating a budget if your parent is constantly revised and the amount of money that he or she needs per month in child support. After going through a family court to have child support determined you will know how much money needs to be paid each month in child support and how the payments will be made. This is a great benefit for you or any parent especially if you’ve had issues with blocking your co-parent into a set amount of child support each month.

From your Co parents’ perspective, this system stands to benefit him or her given that their monthly bills are sometimes tied to the amount of child support that you must pay. It can be a nerve-wracking experience to have to wait on child support that you are not confident that you will receive to pay your rent or utility bills. Rather, I have worked with many families over the years who have simply given up on being able to depend upon child support each month. These parents will simply think it’s not worth their trouble to ever try to hold their Co-parent responsible for miss child support. However, I have found that many parents have simply not made child support payments if only because they thought it would be too complicated or because they changed jobs and were not able to update their wage withholding order. In a situation like that, if you as the paying parent keep up with your end of the bargain as far as keeping your information current then there should not be much of a problem as far as getting your child support payments paid each month. 

Finally, your children stand to benefit because ultimately, they are the ones who will suffer if they do not have a place to live or their normal dosage of medication each month these are just a few examples of how the inability or failure to pay child support can wreak havoc on a child’s life. Even if it frustrates you to need to pay money to your parent each month remember that it is your children who stand to benefit the most from these payments. 

Calculating child support 

Again, you and your Co-parent are in complete control of how child support is calculated. You all can use the specific circumstances of your family and whatever any other factors you have are to calculate child support. However, I am going to provide you with a rundown of how the Texas family code calculates child support so that you have a basis by which you can form an opinion about how to proceed with your child support calculations.

You are net monthly income will be calculated. This means all your sources of income will the calculated with certain deductions made for taxes and other costs. Once your net monthly income is calculated then a percentage will be multiplied against that figure to determine child support. For one child before the court, 20% of your net monthly income would go towards child support. That number would increase by 5% up until you reach 40% for six or more children before the court. Family courts typically will not order child support that is any more than 50% of your net monthly resources. What this should tell you is that sometimes the most complicated part of the entire discussion is determining what your net monthly income is. If you are someone who has multiple streams of income, then you should work with your attorney to lock in this figure so that there are no questions about what your income is and what it isn’t.

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 about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.