Child support can be a tricky, emotional subject to navigate as part of a divorce settlement. When two parents split up — even if it’s a friendly, no-mess divorce — one of the parents typically carries more of the burden raising the child as the custodial parent.
Conversely, the other parent (non-custodial parent) will be instructed by the court to pay a monthly monetary amount to help ease this burden for the custodial parent. This much you may already know.
But, there are other aspects of Texas child support laws that might surprise you. I will unpack some unique situations that could affect child support in your case.
What You May Not Know About Texas Child Support Laws
1. Employer Wage Withholding
When one spouse is ordered to pay child support, you might think this payment is as simple as the payer putting a check in the mail, transferring money from one bank account to another, or using a financial app like Venmo to make the payment. However, this is not typically the case.
In the vast majority of cases, the payment from one spouse to the other spouse happens through employer wage withholding or wage garnishment. This happens about 80% of the time, according to the Texas Attorney General’s office.
Employer wage withholding is exactly what it sounds like: an employer is ordered by the court to withdraw a certain amount from the employee’s paycheck each pay period. This amount is equal to the pre-determined amount that the person is required to pay in child support.
This money is then sent to the Attorney General’s office because they are responsible for child support payments. The office then sends the money to the custodial parent expecting the payment.
While this might sound like a complicated way to make child support payments, it’s actually a good idea in many cases. This withholding ensures that the payments always make it to their destination on time, the child is able to have the clothes, food, and other items that he or she needs, and the paying parent in question stays out of trouble with the law.
2. Child Support Calculations
Many people think that the amount a parent pays in child support is left up to the whims of a judge. The misconception is that a judge sets the amount based on how things played out in court on a particular day; therefore, there’s no telling how much you can expect to pay until the child support order is given. That’s not how it actually works.
In reality, there are some very strict rules that govern how much child support one parent can legally be required to pay the other. These rules depend on how much money each parent makes, how much certain bills cost (such as housing, medical expenses, etc.), and whether either parent makes other payments to or receives other payments from another ex-spouse from previous relationships.
It’s a complicated calculation, but the good news is that, at the very least, you can gain some understanding of what you can expect to receive or pay ahead of time. You can use the state of Texas’ official online child support estimator to obtain a rough idea.
However, this is not an official calculation and should not be relied upon as the final result. That’s why you need to work with a family law attorney that can help you on either side of the coin. I can help maximize the amount you should be receiving as the custodial parent or minimize the amount that you should be paying as the non-custodial parent.
3. Child Support Modification
Calculations and guidelines don’t always account for the entire picture of a child support situation. If you’ve been receiving or paying child support, and you’re not happy with the amount in question, there are ways to have that amount adjusted. When you do, it depends on your situation.
If you are simply unhappy with the amount ordered by the court, you will have to wait a minimum of three years before requesting the court revisit the case to pursue a modification. This seems like a long time, but this is done in part to establish a history of payments in good faith and to give you time to demonstrate why that amount is incorrect.
However, you can request a modification sooner if your circumstances have drastically changed. Factors considered could include losing your job, facing a pay reduction, or dealing with a drastic increase in expenses such as rent or mortgage payments. In these cases, the courts might grant a request to look at your situation earlier and modify the original order as needed.
Work With a Family Law Attorney to Support Your Case
As you can see, there’s more to the Texas child support laws than you might think. It can be complicated, which is why you need an experienced advocate in your corner. Thanks to years of experience in Texas family law courts, I have the knowledge and expertise to help you win your case.
I have helped parents just like you in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County arrive at the best possible outcome for your situation. Call my offices today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to find the legal support you need with a child support situation. I’m here to help!