There is no minimum amount of child support in Texas. Instead, the amount of child support ordered depends on the specific details of your case. An attorney can help you to understand what a child support agreement should look like in your case.
Going through a divorce or legal separation can be tough and difficult to adjust to. When there are children involved, both parents have an obligation to ensure that the basic needs of the child are met and that their situation does not change too drastically after a separation.
The child support attorneys at The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC can help ensure that you and your children receive your child support payments each month by helping you to secure a legal order. Alternatively, if you are a parent who owes child support, we can help you to ensure that the agreement is fair and reasonable.
Our law firm has been helping Texas citizens for many years with all types of family law matters, and we understand the challenges faced by parents that have divorced or separated.
Child Support Guidelines in Texas
When determining how much money should be granted in a child support payment, a Judge will typically look at Texas Child Support Laws and Guidelines and consider several factors. The guidelines are as follows:
- One child – 20% of the net income of the non-custodial parent
- Two children – 25%
- Three children – 30%
- Four children – 35%
- Five children – 40%
- Six or more children – 40% or more
There are also maximum limits in place, which are based on a parent’s monthly net resources of $7,500 a month. These guidelines are not absolute and can be increased or decreased depending on the particular situation.
Medical Child Support in Texas
Parents also have a responsibility to ensure that their children’s medical needs are met. Therefore, the court will consider the ability of each parent to provide health insurance. The court will consider the cost and quality of health insurance and whether it is available at a reasonable cost.
Factors Affecting Child Support Payments in Texas
In addition to the Texas Child Support Guidelines for calculating child support, there are also other factors that a Judge may take into consideration when determining the correct amount. The role of Judges is to prioritize the best interest of the child, and sometimes they do not want to change the child’s life too much. Because of this, they may take the following into consideration:
- Whether the primary caregiver receives spousal support payments
- The overall needs of the child
- How much each parent earns per month
- Traveling costs to visit the child
- Custody arrangements
- Health care and education provisions
- Whether either parent has debts or obligations
- Whether either parent has salary or wage deductions
- Overall financial situation
- Whether one or more children have physical or mental disabilities that require extra care
- Whether one or more children need counseling to help them cope with the divorce
A Judge does not want to leave one parent without enough money to get by each month. They also want to ensure the custodial parent has enough income to support the child’s basic needs. A Texas child support attorney can help argue on your behalf to get a child support order that reflects your current financial situation.
What Happens if the Obligated Parent is Unemployed?
Child support guidelines are based on the obligated parent’s monthly net resources. Therefore, if they are unemployed and have no net income, then securing sufficient child support can be a challenge. To determine child support, the court will consider the ability of the obligated parent to work.
When The Non-Custodial Parent Leaves Their Job to Avoid Child Support
If a parent is determined to have lost a job or to be unemployed in order to avoid child support payments, then this is known as bad faith. In this case, the court can order child support based on their potential earnings. For example, if they previously earned $3,000 per month, then the obligation could be based on this even if they are not currently earning anything.
When the Obligated Parent Loses Their Job
If the parent obligated to pay child support loses their job, then they may be unable to pay child support. However, if the custodial parent is relying on that money for shelter, food, and other necessities, then this can be incredibly frustrating.
If the obligated parent lost their job, then they should inform the court as soon as possible. They will still be required to meet their child support order until it is modified by the court. However, it is common for the court to still order child support payments, which are often based on a 40-hour work week on minimum wage.
Custodial Parent is Unemployed Because of Education
Usually, it is good for both the parents and the child for a parent to return to remain in school to finish education or to obtain a professional license that will allow them to better provide for their child in the future. However, this can hinder their ability to pay child support.
When this happens, the court could decide to return to the formula for child support based on minimum wage and a 40-hour workweek. The current minimum wage in Texas is $7.25 per hour.
When The Non-Custodial Parent is in Prison
Unfortunately, if the noncustodial parent is in prison for more than 90 days, then the court does not presume that they can earn a minimum wage at a 40-hour job. The Judge will consider their resources, and whether they are able to pay child support or not, and if they do have some resources, they will consider what order would be reasonable.
What To Do if The Other Parent Fails to Pay Child Support
When child support orders are made by a Judge, both parents are expected to abide by these orders. This means that the parent who is the subject of the order pays child support, and the custodial parent uses this money solely for the child’s needs. It can be extremely frustrating for the parent receiving child support if the other parent does not meet their obligations each month, and they are left without sufficient means to care for the child.
However, the experienced child support lawyers from our law firm can help enforce the support order by notifying a Judge and implementing enforcement measures.
Child Support Enforcement
As a non-custodial parent, you have child support obligations that need to be met each month. Failure to meet these obligations can result in enforcement measures being applied by the Judge. The consequences of child support enforcement actions can include:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Wage withholding or garnishment by your employers, which can amount to half of your paycheck each month
- Loans, grants, and state contracts are being withheld from the other parent
- Property liens
- Interception of tax refunds and lottery winnings by the government
- Being found in contempt of court, which can result in six months in prison or fines of up to $500
It is important to be aware that the custodial parent cannot withhold access to the children if the other parent is not paying child support. Child custody and support are separate matters, and they do not influence each other. If you withhold access to the children, you could face ramifications from a Judge. We recommend that you contact one of our Houston child support lawyers if you need to enforce a child support payment.
Child Support Modification
It is natural that both your and your children’s life will change as time progresses. This could mean that you do not earn enough money as you did when you made the original child support arrangement, or the arrangement that suited your child when they were a toddler does not work for them as a teenager.
Houston child support laws allow parents to apply for a modification to the child support agreement if there has been a “material” change in their circumstances. Some examples of these changes could include:
- The parent has more children
- One parent becomes physically or mentally disabled
- The child needs more funds to support a new interest or talent
- Parents’ income is lessened because of a change of employment
- The child becomes physically or mentally disabled
It is also possible to modify an order for less extreme circumstances, such as a child deciding to attend public school instead of private school or one parent getting a better health insurance plan with a new job. One of our child support attorneys can help you modify an existing order to ensure that it reflects your current situation and that the needs of the child are adequately met.
Never Withhold Visitation Because of Missed Payments in Texas
It is important to be aware that you should not deny visitation to your children because of missed child support payments. It is understandable why your frustration may make it tempting to deny visitation to your child’s other parent. However, visitation and child support are separate issues, and the court will not look kindly upon you if you do so.
If you refuse court-ordered visitation, then you could also be found to be in contempt of a court order. Instead of taking matters into your own hands, you should seek the support and guidance of an experienced attorney.
Can Child Support Payments be Backdated if There Was No Court Order?
Even if there was not a court-issued child support order, the court could choose to backdate payments. However, if there was no court order, then the court would only consider the previous four years of retroactive child support. However, they may also extend this time if the obligor knew the child was there and purposely avoided the establishment of a child support obligation.
When a Judge is determining whether child support payments should be backdated and the period that should be considered, the Judge will consider factors such as:
- The obligor knew that he was the father or may be the father
- The mother made attempts to notify the obligor that he is or may be the father of the child
- Whether the obligor provided any support before the child support order was issued
- Whether a retroactive child support order will create undue financial hardship for the obligor
- Net resources of the obligor in the relevant time period
When Does a Child Support Order End?
In accordance with the Texas Family Code 154.001, the obligor is required to pay child support until the child turns 18 or until they graduate high school, whichever comes later.
Child support ends when your child becomes emancipated, meaning they are self-supporting and can manage their own affairs. This may happen before a child turns 18 if they get married, join the U.S. military, or successfully petition the court to be free of parental control.
Child support is not automatically terminated, and the obligor will need to file a petition to the court and provide evidence to the court before they stop making payments.
In order to terminate child support, you or your attorney will need to file a Motion to Terminate Withholding for Child Support in the court that issued the original family court orders. The Judge will review your petition, and if everything is in line with family law, your child support order will be terminated. However, if you owe back child support, you will probably need to pay the arrears before child support can be terminated.
There are also some circumstances where child support payments could be ordered indefinitely. If your child has a physical or mental disability and requires substantial care and supervision, then it is unlikely that child support patents can be terminated.
What is the Minimum Child Support in Texas?
For many people, going through a divorce or legal separation causes significant financial strain. This is particularly the case when there are children involved. Therefore, it is essential that your child support agreement is fair and meets the needs of you and your family.
At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, we will help you and your ex-spouse mediate an agreement. If this is not possible, we will also be prepared to advocate on your behalf in the courtroom.
We pride ourselves on a strong attorney-client relationship based on hard work and dedication. We are committed to getting the best possible outcome for your case and ensuring that your legal rights are protected.