Everything from diapers to baby food to training wheels to school supplies are expenses that can add up to a lot of money, and they don’t disappear after a divorce. That’s why Texas makes child support a standard part of any legal despite involving the parent/child relationship.
But knowing exactly what these payments are meant to cover (and even what they don’t cover) can be controversial, confusing, and frustrating for both parents. If you have questions such as, “What is child support supposed to cover?” let’s take a look at what this entails in Texas.
What is Child Support in Texas?
Child support refers to regular payments made by one parent to the other for the purpose of offsetting the cost of raising a child. It also makes sure that both parents are held equally responsible for meeting the financial needs of raising a child.
Child support is often ordered as the result of a custody dispute, which usually occurs when parents get a divorce. But it can also be relevant to parents who aren’t married and want a parenting plan that will help them to organize their parental responsibilities.
Once a child support order is put into place, child support is non-negotiable and enforceable. If one parent does not make timely payments for the total amount each period, they can face severe financial and legal consequences, including being held in contempt of court.
In Texas, child support is almost always paid by the non-custodial parent (also referred to as the “visitation parent.”) The exact amount to be paid is determined through an analysis of a number of individualized factors.
How is the Amount of Child Support Determined?
Every child support case is different, which is why the amount owed will vary based on the variables in play. However, the Texas Family Code provides baseline child support guidelines to help determine how much one parent should pay the other each month:
- 1 child (20% of net resources)
- 2 children (25% of net resources)
- 3 children (30% of net resources)
- 4 children (35% of net resources)
- 5 children (40% of net resources)
These figures are designed to represent what is needed to cover a child’s basic needs and to make sure their standard of living isn’t affected by divorce. By calculating child support this way, the courts ensure the final amount can actually be covered by the paying spouse each month.
What is Child Support Supposed to Cover?
According to Texas Family Law, child support is intended to cover any essential expenses in a child’s life. But it includes more than just basic child support needed to stay alive.
The custodial parent can use child support payments how they see fit, but it must benefit the child in some way. Child support can be used to cover any costs associated with the following:
- Food and housing.
- Clothing, hygiene products, and other personal items.
- Medical and dental expenses that aren’t covered by insurance.
- Education costs (including school supplies, books, fees, and private school tuition).
- Travel, media, and other forms of entertainment.
Using child support money to pay for entertainment may seem like a stretch. But according to Texas Family Law, children are entitled to the same lifestyle as their parents (including all the benefits your income can afford).
This line item can include having access to certain perks (such as movies, entertainment, and family trips). It can be used for anything your children would still enjoy if your family unit were whole and everyone lived together under your roof.
What is Child Support Not Supposed to Cover?
One of the most important things child support does not cover is medical and dental insurance. These costs are covered by what’s referred to as “medical child support,” which is meant to cover the cost of a child’s medical needs. These costs can be paid for as part of a health insurance premium or as cash support (depending on your arrangement).
This element is paid in addition to regular child support payments and is usually paid by whoever is making child support payments.
If there are any out-of-pocket medical expenses (which aren’t covered by insurance), the custodial parent can be reimbursed for them. But these expenses are not designed to come from regular child support payments.
Find Legal Support with a Child Support Dispute
Whether you receive child support from your ex-spouse or you are the parent paying child support each month, you may have specific questions about your situation.
It’s crucial to speak with a family law attorney about your concerns. Perhaps you think your ex-spouse is not using child support funds correctly. Or, if you receive child support, you may wish to put an end to your ex-spouse questioning how the funds are being used.
Our experienced family law attorneys are well-versed in the child support laws in Texas. We can help parents in either situation navigate legal issues with child support and ensure each party is following the court order.
We currently support clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, reach out to our offices to discuss your case.
You can reach our offices at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with one of our helpful attorneys. We are prepared to answer questions such as, “What is child support supposed to cover in my situation?” and other child support-related questions you may have.