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Meeting Your Children’s Financial Needs

One of the most important issues family law attorneys deal with is facilitating agreements between divorcing spouses regarding their financial responsibilities, including child support. Determining how a child will be financially supported is an important aspect of any divorce that involves a minor. Within the Texas Family Code, there is a calculation that’s used to determine child support payment amounts. However, the amount calculated is unrealistic in many cases. 

At Goranson Bain Ausley, our Texas child support lawyers realize that every family is different and has its own set of financial needs. Our Dallas, Fort Worth, Granbury, Plano, Midland, and Austin child support lawyers will work alongside you to develop the right strategy for your child’s unique needs. Whether it’s better to follow traditional guidelines or create an approach specifically for your family, you can trust a child support lawyer in Texas from our firm to do whatever it takes to secure you the outcome you and your children deserve.

Texas Child Support Guidelines

Child support is money paid to support a child, including providing the child with food, clothing, shelter, medical care, dental care, and education. The goal of child support is to ensure that the child is receiving the financial support necessary to meet their needs of the child. Texas law requires both legal parents to financially support their children’s necessary expenses even after a divorce. 

Every child support attorney in Texas knows that there are few family law issues more emotionally charged than the question of how much money the non-custodial parent should pay for the support of their child. At Goranson Bain Ausley, our Texas child support attorneys are well-versed in state laws regarding child support and will advocate tirelessly for the outcome that is in the best interests of you and your child.

While all parties involved can usually agree that it’s necessary and responsible to provide child support, disputes often arise concerning the payment amount. Disputes such as these are especially common for spouses with high incomes or significant estates. A Texas child support lawyer from Goranson Bain Ausley can help guide you through these high-conflict situations with sound and strategic advice. 

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Is it Possible to Deviate from Texas Child Support Guidelines? 

Yes. The best interest of the child will always be the court’s main point of consideration when calculating a child support payment. To evaluate what amount would be best for the child, the court will examine all relevant factors and evidence, such as: 

  • Debts assumed by a parent 
  • Parents’ financial situations and their ability to pay 
  • Child care expenses incident to a job 
  • Negative or positive cash flow that affects either parent’s liquidity 
  • Special educational, health, or other issues that affect a child or a parent 
  • If a parent has physical custody or conservatorship of a different child 
  • Health insurance premiums, deductibles, and uninsured medical expenses 
  • Housing, motor vehicle, and other benefits supplied to a parent by a third party 
  • Child’s college education and post-secondary school expenses 
  • Travel expenses associated with possession of and access to the child 
  • Spousal support paid or received by a parent 
  • Other deductions from the income of a parent 
  • If a parent is intentionally under- or unemployed 
  • How much time the children spend in each parent’s care 
  • Child’s age and needs 
  • Any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into account the circumstances of the parents 

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Child Support Options

Temporary Child Support

Temporary child support orders, issued to provide for and protect children before a divorce is finalized, have multiple benefits. 

A temporary child support order can reduce the amount of stress children experience during a divorce by allowing them to continue with their normal activities. It can also help all parties verify if the agreed amount of support is adequate for their children to maintain their standard of living. A temporary child support agreement that’s acceptable to all parties may be formalized in the final divorce decree. If the temporary agreement isn’t acceptable to all parties, it may be amended before finalization. 

Permanent Child Support

Permanent child support refers to the order that locks in the terms of the child support payments. However, the word “permanent” can be misleading, as these orders can be changed over time. If a party believes there has been a substantial change in circumstances and a different child support amount would be in the best interest of the child, they can request a modification of the previous child support order. 

Determining Child Support Payments

Child support determinations are deeply intertwined with child custody and visitation arrangements. Generally speaking, non-custodial parents, or obligors, make monthly child support payments to the custodial parent. Custodial parents are not usually the subjects of a child support court order because the court assumes they’re already making substantial contributions to their child’s care by providing food, clothing, shelter, and education. 

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Enforcement of Child Support Orders

Every child deserves to receive the support they need, whether it be emotional or financial. If a parent isn’t adhering to their child support order, that negatively impacts their child’s life. Luckily, steps can be taken to resolve the issue. 

Several state and federal agencies handle child support enforcement. In Texas, the Office of the Attorney General and family courts partner with the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement to locate and notify non-compliant parents of any court orders and the amounts of child support payments owed to the custodial parent. 

Texas also has a diversion program called the Child Support Probation Unit. This unit collaborates with the Office of the Attorney General and the IV-D child support court associate judges to provide an incarceration alternative for non-custodial parents who have been held in contempt for non-payment of child support. County probation divisions monitor money due to custodial parents, attempt to remove barriers to child support payment by providing probationers with access to community resources, and can reduce jail stays for certain incarcerated parents by placing them in structured, court-monitored support programs instead of prison or jail.

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Modifying Child Support Orders

As your life changes over time, the terms of your child support order may need to be modified. Specific circumstances must exist to do this, and it’s important that any modification be formalized through a new court order and not through an informal agreement. Informal agreements between parents are not enforceable and can result in legal difficulties for both parents. 

Child support orders can be modified by either parent if the existing order has been active for more than three years or the monthly support amount would change by either 20% or $100. This often occurs when the obligor experiences a significant change in circumstances, such as the non-custodial parent’s income significantly increasing or decreasing, the non-custodial parent becoming legally responsible for more children, medical insurance for the dependent child/children changing, custodial arrangements being altered, a major medical issue arising, or the non-custodial parent being incarcerated.

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