Often people think of child support in the context of a marriage, however, child support is an available legal option for any child whose parents do not share a residence, even if the parents were never married. Child support is a payment made from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent so that they can cover the child’s living expenses. Child support can be a triggering issue for many, and people often have strong opinions on it. However, understanding its function and how it operates is a helpful first step. In this article we will try to touch on some of the questions that we hear most frequently about Texas child support. If you have any questions that are not answered below, or you would like to discuss the specifics of your particular case, you are welcome to contact Covington Law Firm, PLLC, to schedule a consultation.
- What is a Custodial vs. Non-Custodial Parent?
There can be a lot of new and confusing terminology when you are trying to navigate child custody issues, and these are two phrases that you will see again and again. The custodial parent is the parent who lives with the child and is receiving child support. The non-custodial parent is not living with the child, and is responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent.
- How is Child Support Calculated?
Child support is calculated based on the non-custodial parent’s net income, which is equal to their gross income (absolutely all sources of income) minus social security taxes, federal income taxes, union dues, and medical premiums for the children. This amount is then multiplied by a percentage based on how many shared children the non-custodial parent is responsible for. If they are only supporting one child, the parent’s monthly net income will be multiplied by 20%, whereas if the parent is supporting five children, their monthly net income will be multiplied by 40%.
- Can I Send Texas Child Support Via Venmo or Cashapp?
Generally, child support is withdrawn from the paycheck of the non-custodial parent and is then distributed to the custodial parent by the child support agency. However, parents who do not receive a paycheck from an employer are exempt from this requirement. Additionally, parents may mutually agree to bypass this set-up and have child support payments made directly. However, the benefit to having all payments go through an agency is that it creates a clear record that is easy to track and tell when payments have been made and when they have not.
- Can the Amount of Child Support be Changed?
Yes, although it may seem like the terms of your child support agreement are written in stone, they can be modified if necessary, however, this modification must be made by the court. You can seek modification if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the child support order was issued. For instance, if your co-parent is now earning significantly more than they were when child support was calculated, or if you were ordered to pay child support but are now unemployed or unable to work, you can petition the court to modify the original order. Generally, in order to constitute a substantial change, you must be able to show that this would result in at least a 20% or $100 change in your child support amount. Also, child support can be reviewed every three years.
- Can I Stop Paying Child Support if the Other Parent is Withholding Access to My Child?
In short, no. If your co-parent is withholding access to your child or is not allowing you to visit you should continue making child support payments, and pursue a custody enforcement action with the court to ensure that you will be able to see your child. If you stop paying child support you can be held in contempt of court and potentially create more barriers to seeing your children.
- Can I Still See My Child if I Cannot Afford to Pay Texas Child Support?
This question is similar to the question above, but we hear it all the time so wanted to include it. What is important to understand is that visitation and child support are treated as separate issues by the court. If you are being denied access to your child because you are not able to make your child support payments, your best plan of action is to enforce the existing possession order which allows you to visit your child. You should also see if it is possible to modify the amount of your child support payments if you are no longer able to make the payments.
- What Do I Do if My Co-Parent Stops Paying Child Support?
If your co-parent stops paying child support it can feel like the world is falling out from under your feet. Luckily, the courts take this very seriously. You can file a formal request for court intervention and the court will take action to try and determine why the child support payments are not being made. There are also a slew of penalties that the court can enforce for failure to pay, including wage and income tax garnishment.
- Are Child Support Payments Tax-Deductible?
Child support payments are not deductible from the non-custodial parent’s taxable income, nor are they to be counted as income for the custodial parent. It is treated just like money that you would have spent on your child were you living in the same residence.
- How Often are Child Support Payments Made?
The court has a great amount of discretion in determining how often child support payments are made. Depending on the children’s needs and the financial situations of the parents, the court may choose to order bi-weekly or monthly payments. However, the court can also use more non-traditional methods such as lump-sum payments, an annuity purchase, or a transfer or property. Judges are allowed to get creative in ensuring the children’s needs are met with the financial resources that the non-custodial parent has available. Usually, money for child support is withheld from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck, so the frequency of payment depends on the frequency of the obligor’s paycheck.
- How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support?
In most cases, if you are the non-custodial parent, you will be responsible for making child support payments until your child is 18. If your child is regularly attending high school and turns 18 before they graduate, you will be responsible to continue making payments until they graduate from high school. Additionally, if your child is physically or mentally disabled, the court may order you to provide support for them indefinitely.
Talk to a Texas Child Support Attorney
If you are going through a divorce or getting ready to pursue child custody in Texas, it is important to have a powerful ally and legal advocate on your side. Call the Covington Law Firm today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can work toward the best possible outcome for you and your family.