No one expects that their parental experience will include disputes or reaching agreements regarding child support and custody. Unfortunately, this is a common outcome in America today. After all, 40% of all children in our country are born to unwed parents — and this doesn’t include kids whose parents go through divorce proceedings. If you find yourself in either of these situations, a court order for child support may be in your future. Unfortunately, Texas law can be complex in this area — even for custodial parents. Because of this, you may be better served by contacting a child support lawyer in Houston rather than going it alone.
At Von Dohlen Law Firm, our goal is to protect the rights of our clients while ensuring their children are cared for. Child support disputes can be incredibly stressful, and this is why we always try to create a cooperative approach between parents. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. With clear Texas child support guidelines available, though, even the most contentious cases can have a clear outcome. Of course, your unique situation will dictate how your case plays out. Contact our law firm today to learn more about your rights and how to create a child support agreement that’s fair for everyone involved.
Who Has to Pay Child Support in Texas?
You could have the best team of child support lawyers in America on your side, but if you’re a noncustodial parent, it’s still very likely that you’ll be obligated to pay child support. This is even the case when there is an order for joint managing conservatorship in place. Even though such an order essentially grants legal custody to both parents, judges usually appoint a primary joint managing conservator. This is the individual who will choose the child’s residency, and in most cases, this means they’ll also be the primary physical custodial parent. In such cases, Texas courts require support payments from noncustodial parents.
Once child support orders are issued by the court — or when agreements are affirmed by a judge — these orders last until the child turns 18 years old. These payments go to the custodial parent and are to be used for the care of their child. Texas law also requires the noncustodial parent to obtain health insurance for their child as long as it’s not overly expensive. Other medical costs are generally shared between both parties. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that these are all general rules. Parents who can work together are often able to reach a more beneficial agreement for their situation.
How Much Are Child Support Payments in Texas?
While Texas courts will order a specific amount of child support to be paid, this number will vary by case. That’s because the amount of child support a parent must provide is decided by Texas guidelines. If you only have one child with a former romantic partner, you’ll be expected to pay 20% of your monthly income to the custodial parent. For every additional child, you’ll need to add 5% to this number. This 5% increase continues with each additional child up until you have five kids. If you have more than five children, you’ll have to provide at least 40% of your income toward their support.
Of course, this is another area of Texas child custody law that is not set in stone. If the custodial and noncustodial parent come to an agreement, it’s likely that the judge will sign off on the arrangement. It is important to note, however, that custodial and child support issues cannot be decided by marital contracts (e.g., pre- or postnuptial agreements). Any elements contained in such a contract will be considered unenforceable by Texas courts. This means child support cases will need to be decided once it’s clear that two parents are going their separate ways.
Are There Exceptions to Child Support Obligations?
If you’re going through a child support case, the rules may seem straightforward. Of course, not everything is as simple as it may seem — particularly when family law issues are involved. It turns out that there are many exceptions to these financial obligations in Texas. That’s why speaking with experienced child support lawyers in Houston is a wise move regardless of your situation. To show how nuanced these rules can be, though, simply consider the following exceptions to Texas law:
- Child support commitments can persist after the age of 18 if a child is still in high school
- A noncustodial parent’s obligation can end if their child is emancipated
- Financial responsibilities can continue long after the age of 18 if a child has physical or mental disabilities
- Support obligations may end in a custody case if the paying parent experiences a significant medical crisis
- The death of a child ends all obligatory support payments
Texas child support issues can be quite complex, and your unique situation will have a major effect on any final court order. This is one reason why seeking legal representation can prove so invaluable. Once an order is in force, you’ll have to request a modification to make any changes. That’s why reaching an appropriate and fair agreement in advance is so beneficial. And if there are special circumstances in your case, it’s vital that they’re presented to a judge who can decide whether they’re relevant. Whether you’re a custodial or noncustodial parent seeking to better understand your situation, Von Dohlen Law Firm will provide the legal assistance you need.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Child Support in Texas?
Failing to pay child support in Texas is a crime. It can result in jail time, but in many cases, the government will merely garnish a person’s wages or intercept their tax refund to cover their obligation. Of course, there are understandable situations when you may not be able to pay what you once were able to. If you find yourself in such a situation, contact our law office today to learn about seeking a child support modification. If you’re a custodial parent whose former partner is behind on payments, however, it’s contingent on you or your attorney to report this fact. Failing to do so could eventually result in an economic loss since there is a statute of limitations on child support in Texas.
If someone failed to meet their full support obligations, the custodial parent has 10 years from the time their child turns 18 to seek repayment. However, this changes if there was no child support order issued in the first place. If this is the case, the statute of limitations drops to four years following the 18th birthday of the child. Because of these limitations, it’s important to seek an enforcement order in a timely manner. It’s understandable that you may feel swamped and too busy to go through this process, but it’s likely the only way you’ll secure the money necessary to care for your child.
Contact a Child Support Lawyer in Houston Today
Even though Texas has clear child support guidelines, it doesn’t mean every case is cut and dry. Our state certainly expects both parents to provide financial support for their children, but there are nuances to the law that can result in similar cases having very different outcomes. And even in situations where a child support order seems straightforward, unexpected costs can throw everything into disarray. That’s why it’s so important to seek out legal representation before making any major decisions or commitments regarding child support. A Houston family law attorney can help in this endeavor.
At Von Dohlen Law Firm, we strive to simplify any family law issues our clients are going through. We understand that these matters can elicit extreme emotion, but when it comes down to it, every good parent wants what is best for their children. Our goal is to help you achieve this. We can assist in mediating an arrangement that’s acceptable to everyone and enforceable by the courts. And if you can’t come to an agreement, we can help you figure out the next steps and how to protect your rights and the rights of your child. Contact us today by calling (713) 844-8396 to schedule a one-on-one consultation with an experienced child support lawyer in Houston. At Von Dohlen Law Firm, we’re ready to help.