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Whether you are just beginning the divorce process, or you need assistance with the modification or enforcement of a current child support order, our experienced team is here to help with your child support case.
Child Support Team of Experts
Divorce is a difficult and emotional process to walk through. Our team is here to help answer all your questions and ensure your individual needs are met. There are many questions that arise from our clients and we will help you navigate each with clarity.
Establishing Child Support
In Texas, the purpose of a child support order is to require parents to provide for their children’s financial needs. Most child custody cases result in one parent being ordered to pay monthly child support to the other parent. Texas law presumes that the parent who establishes the child’s primary residence will receive child support. Child support can also include the payment of medical insurance, dental insurance, and medical expenses for a child. Medical support orders are additional child support a parent is ordered to pay to cover the cost of health insurance and uninsured medical expenses for a child. Unless the child has a disability, child support in Texas only lasts until the child reaches 18 or graduates from high school.
The State of Texas has legal guidelines that provide a formula to calculate the amount of child support to be paid by one parent to the other.
This formula is based on the number of children involved and the paying parent’s financial resources, including income. However, the court may deviate from the guideline to go above or below the presumed amount for a variety of reasons. At Thompson Salinas Londergan LLP, we often represent parents seeking above-guideline support and parents defending against unreasonable or unworkable requests for high child support.
Setting the amount of child support can be a contentious process. Our team is here to help answer all your questions about child support and ensure the individual needs of your case are met.
Enforcement Child Support
Texas law offers excellent tools to ensure the payment of child support. If the parent paying child support is employed, child support can automatically be withheld from their income. Texas also has a central system for processing all child support payments, which ensures that an accurate record of payments is kept.
However, after a court signs an order setting child support, further legal action may be necessary to enforce that obligation. For more information on enforcement of orders, see Enforcement of Orders.
Modifying Child Support
Once a court sets child support, that same court can modify the obligation. We see a variety of reasons for modifying child support. For example, one parent may have a significant increase or decrease in their income. Sometimes it is just the passage of time – if the original child support order was put in place when the child was young, it may be appropriate to revisit the amount of support. For more information on modification of orders, see Modification of Orders.
Our knowledgeable and experienced team of family lawyers stand ready to assist you in your child support case.
Questions and Answers about available child support services in Texas
I can’t afford to pay child support right now; can I still spend time with my children as outlined in my court order?
Unless there is a court order restricting your time with your child, the answer is yes. Child support and visitation rights are separate issues in the eyes of the court. Both parents must obey the child support portion of the order and the possession portion of the order.
If your court order has a possession order, the custodial parent must make your child available to you for parenting time. The custodial parent has to follow the possession (parenting time) order, even if you cannot pay child support.
If the custodial parent refuses to let you see your child because you are not paying child support, you can file a motion to enforce the access and possession portion of your order. There are potential legal consequences to moms and dads who do not obey the court orders.
How do I know if I am the custodial parent or noncustodial parent?
If you receive child support, you are the custodial parent.
If you pay child support, you are the noncustodial parent.
What rights do I have as a parent unless otherwise court ordered?
Unless limited by court order both custodial and noncustodial parents ALWAYS have the right to:
- receive information from the other parent about the health, education, and welfare of the child;
- confer with the other parent to the extent possible before making a decision concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;
- access medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child;
- consult with a physician, dentist, or psychologist of the child;
- consult with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities;
- attend school activities;
- be listed on the child’s records as an emergency contact;
- consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child; and
- manage the estate of the child to the extent the estate has been created by the parent or the parent’s family.
You also have the duty (requirement) at all times to inform the other parent of any important information regarding the child’s health, education, and welfare. Unless you have requested confidentiality or that a family violence indicator be placed on your case, court orders require parents to share information with each other regarding their child’s health, education, and welfare. Things that you should ALWAYS tell the other parent include:
- If you move, your new address (not doing this is a contemptible offense)
- If you change your phone number (not doing this is a contemptible offense)
- If you are married to or intend to marry a person who you know is a registered sex offender (not doing this is a Class C misdemeanor)
These requirements to share information apply to parents named in the order. You are not required to give your address if:
- there was a history of domestic violence; AND
- your court order does not require you to give your information.
- The court order may specifically state that the other parent has no right to know your address.
Each of these rights and duties will be outlined in your order. If anyone questions your right to information, such as your child’s medical records, take a copy of your court order with you to the doctor’s office.
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