Child support isn’t always cut and dry. Several factors contribute to the amount owed, how child support payments should be delivered, the child’s health insurance payments, and more. Because of this, you may have several unanswered questions about how child support works in Texas.
Read on for several FAQs to help you sort out the ins and outs of child support in Texas.
What Is Child Support?
All parents are legally obligated to financially support their children. In Texas, a parent is legally defined as a child’s biological mother and a man who is either presumed to be the child’s father or legally determined to be the child’s biological father, or a man who has signed an acknowledgment of paternity, or an adoptive mother or father.
Child support refers to money that one parent pays to another person (usually the other parent) to support his or her child. This can be ordered by a Texas court.
Who Pays Child Support?
In most cases, the person paying child support is the parent who does not have primary custody of the child. The person living with the child more than half the time (usually a parent) is the one who receives child support.
Can I Pay Directly to the Other Parent?
It may seem easy to simply write a check to the person receiving child support, but your child support order will tell you exactly what to do, and it will most likely direct you to pay child support payments through the registry of the court or the Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit. In fact, if you work for an employer, your employer will likely withhold the child support from your paycheck and send it to the local registry or state child support enforcement agency.
You can, however, provide gifts of clothes, money, toys, etc. directly to your children or to the other parent. Understand that this will not be included in your child support payments.
How Much Child Support Will I Pay/Receive?
The amount of child support is determined by what a judge believes is in the best interest of the child. Texas law provides some guidelines based on a percentage of the payer’s net income:
- 20% for 1 child
- 25% for 2 children
- 30% for 3 children
- 35% for 4 children
- 40% for 5 children
- Not less than 40% for 6 or more children
These numbers are altered when the payer also has other children to support in a different household.
When Does Child Support End?
Child support generally ends when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school – whichever comes later. However, if the child is mentally or physically disabled, the court may order an indefinite period of child support. In the divorce agreement, the paying parent may agree to continue supporting through college. Parents can also agree in the divorce agreement to split college expenses.
Can the Amount Be Changed?
Only a court can change the amount owed in child support, and this can only happen if circumstances change. If a paying parent loses a job or encounters other financial problems, he or she can ask the court for a modification. Likewise, a parent receiving child support can ask for an increase if the paying parent gets a better job.
Can We Make Our Own Agreement?
You can typically make a written agreement together, and if the court finds it to be in the best interest of the child, an order based on the agreement will be signed.
Who Pays for the Child’s Health Insurance?
The parent responsible for paying child support generally is also given a legal duty to provide health insurance for the child. The payer may be ordered to add the child to their insurance policy provided by their employer, or they may be required to pay the cost of insurance to CHIP or Medicaid.
What if Someone Doesn’t Make the Payments?
If the payer doesn’t pay child support, he or she may be subject to wage garnishment, collection of lottery winnings, suspension or revocation of driver’s license and professional or business licenses, suspension of passport, interception of federal income tax refunds, and contempt of court orders.
With so many factors involved in child support, make sure you understand your child support responsibilities and/or rights. Contact experienced family law attorney Ben Carrasco to get your questions answered.
Austin Child Support Attorney
If you need help with child support in Texas, contact experienced family law attorney Ben Carrasco today at (512) 320-9126 or request a consultation online!